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Title: Fifty-Two Stories For Girls
Author: Miles, Alfred H. (Alfred Henry), 1848-1929 [Editor]
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fifty-Two Stories For Girls" ***

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[Illustration: THE KING'S TRAGEDY. [See p. 434. ]



FIFTY-TWO STORIES FOR GIRLS

Edited by ALFRED H. MILES

[Illustration: Inter Folia Fructus]

NEW YORK AND LONDON
D. APPLETON & CO.
1912

_Published September, 1905_

Printed in the United States of America



TABLE OF AUTHORS.

EVELYN EVERETT-GREEN
SARAH DOUDNEY
ARMAND CAUMONT
ALICE F. JACKSON
NELLIE HOLDERNESS
MARGARET WATSON
JENNIE CHAPPELL
MARION DICKEN
LUCY HARDY
MARIE DELBRASSINE
HELEN BOURCHIER
NORA RYEMAN
KATE GODKIN
LUCIE E. JACKSON
MAUD HEIGHINGTON
DOROTHY PINHO
GORDON STABLES, M.D., R.N.
ROBERT OVERTON
CLUCAS JOUGHIN
ALBERT E. HOOPER
CHARLES E. PEARCE
S. LE SOTGILLE
H. G. BELL
THOMAS ARCHER
ALFRED G. SAYERS
ROBERT GUILLEMARD
F. B. FORESTER
ALFRED H. MILES

AND OTHER WRITERS.



INDEX.


SCHOOL AND HOME.


SUBJECT                              AUTHOR                        PAGE

GLORIA DENE'S SCHOOLFELLOWS:        _Nora Ryeman_
  I. NARDA: THE NIGHTINGALE           "                             11
  II. ESTELLA: THE HEIRESS            "                             16
  III. MAURA: THE MUNIFICENT          "                             22
  IV. MARGOT: THE MARTYR              "                             29
  V.  IRENE: THE SNOW FLOWER          "                             35
  VI. NADINE: THE PRINCESS            "                             39

MY YEAR AT SCHOOL                   _Margaret Watson_               48

THE SILVER STAR                     _Nellie Holderness_             57

UNCLE TONE                          _Kate Godkin_                   67

A NIGHT ON THE ROAD                 _Margaret Watson_               77

THE MISSING LETTER                  _Jennie Chappell_               83

"THE COLONEL"                       _Marion Dicken_                 93

NETTIE                              _Alfred G. Sayers_              97

THE MAGIC CABINET                   _Albert E. Hooper_             103


GIRLHOOD AND YOUTH.

ONLY TIM                            _Sarah Doudney_                121

SMITH'S SISTER                      _Robert Overton_               139

THE COLONEL'S BOY                   _H. Hervey_                    148

'TWIXT LIFE AND DEATH               _Clucas Joughin_               155

ROSE'S BIRTHDAY PRESENT             _Marie E. C. Delbrassine_      164

DOLLY HARDCASTLE'S ROSEBUDS         _Charles E. Pearce_            171

A TALE OF SIMLA                     _Dr. Helen Bourchier_          177

THE TREVERN TREASURE                _Lucy Hardy_                   189

A MEMORABLE DAY                     _Sarah Doudney_                196

DORA                                _Alfred H. Miles_              202

LITTLE PEACE                        _Nora Ryeman_                  211

THE STORY OF WASSILI AND DARIA      _Robert Guillemard_            215


PLUCK, PERIL, AND ADVENTURE.

MARJORIE MAY                        _Evelyn Everett-Green_         225

FOURTH COUSINS                      _Gordon Stables, M.D., R.N._   238

THE PEDLAR'S PACK                   _Lucie E. Jackson_             245

THE UNBIDDEN GUEST                  _F. B. Forester_               264

THE WRECK OF THE MAY QUEEN          _Alice F. Jackson_             275

ADRIFT ON THE PACIFIC                 "                            285

A STRANGE VISITOR                   _Maud Heighington_             295

THE THIRD PERSON SINGULAR           _Lucy Hardy_                   301

"HOW JACK MINDED THE BABY"          _Dorothy Pinho_                307

MY GRANDMOTHER'S ADVENTURE          _Alfred H. Miles_              310

A TERRIBLE CHRISTMAS EVE            _Lucie E. Jackson_             315

A NIGHT OF HORROR                   _Alfred H. Miles_              326

AUNT GRIEVES' SILVER                _Lucie E. Jackson_             329

BILLJIM                             _S. Le Sotgille_               341


IN THE WORLD OF FAERY.

THE LEGENDS OF LANGAFFER            _Armand Caumont_
  I. THE TINY FOLK OF LANGAFFER       "                            353
  II. THE KINGFISHER                  "                            364
  III. CASPAR THE COBBLER             "                            380
  IV. DAME DOROTHY'S DOG              "                            391
  V. THE LITTLE LOCKSMITH             "                            397


ROMANCE IN HISTORY.

HOW CICELY DANCED BEFORE THE KING   _Thomas Archer_                403

A MOTHER OF QUEENS                  _From "Old Romance"_           410

THE STORY OF GRIZEL COCHRANE        _W. R. C._                     418

A WIFE'S STRATAGEM                  _Lucy Hardy_                   427

THE KING'S TRAGEDY                  _Alfred H. Miles_              434

THE STRANGER                        _H. G. Bell_                   439

LOVE WILL FIND A WAY                _Lady Nithsdale's Records_     447



SCHOOL AND HOME.


GLORIA DENE'S SCHOOLFELLOWS.

BY NORA RYEMAN.


I.--NARDA: THE NIGHTINGALE.


I.

"Here you are, miss," said the red-faced cabby, putting his head in at
the cab window, "this is Miss Melford's school."

It was a large, many windowed, white house on Hertford Green, in sight
of the famous spires of Silverbridge, and was for some six months to be
both home and school to me, Gloria Dene.

I was late in my arrival, and I was tired, for I had come all the way
from Erlingham in the heart of Norfolk, and moreover, I was hungry, and
just a little homesick, and already wanted to return to the old
homestead and to Uncle Gervase and Aunt Ducie, who had taken the place
of my parents.

The cabman gave a loud rat-a-tat with the lion-headed knocker, and in
due course a rosy-faced servant maid opened the door and ushered me in.

Then she preceded me through a broad flagged hall, lit by crimson
lamps. And as I went I heard a sweet and thrilling voice singing,

        "Home, home, sweet, sweet home,
    Be it ever so humble there's no place like home."

The words naturally appealed to me, and I exclaimed:

"How lovely! Who is singing?" only to be told that it was Mamselle
Narda, the music mistress.

I thought of the nightingale which sang in our rose bush on summer
nights at home, and found myself wondering what Mamselle was like.

The next day I saw her--Bernarda Torres; she was a brown beauty, with
dark rippling hair, soft dark eyes, and a richly soft complexion, which
put one in mind of a ripe peach on a southern wall.

She was of Spanish extraction, her father (a fruit merchant) hailing
from Granada, her mother from Seville. Narda's path had been strewn with
roses, until a bank failure interrupted a life of happiness, and then
sorrows had come in battalions. Mamselle had really turned her silver
notes into silver coins for the sake of "Home, Sweet Home."

This love of home it was which united Narda and myself. She told me all
about the house at home, about her brother, Carlos, and his pictures,
and _maman_, who made point lace, and Olla Podrida, and little Nita, who
was _douce et belle_. And I, in my turn, told her of the thatched
homestead near the Broads, of the bay and mulberry trees, of Aunt
Ducie's sweet kind face, and Uncle Gervase's early silvered hair.

And she called me "little sister," and promised to spend her next
vacation where the heron fishes and the robin pipes in fair and fresh
East Anglia.

But one May morning, when the lilacs in our playground were full of
sweet-scented, purple plumes, a bolt fell from the blue. A letter came
to Narda telling her of her mother's failing health, her father's
apathy, her brother's despair.

"It is enough," said Mamselle, "I see my duty! An impresario once told
me that my destiny was to sing in public. I will do it for 'Home, Sweet
Home,' I will be La Narda the singer, instead of Miss Melford's
Mamselle. God who helps the blind bird build its nest will help me to
save mine."


II.

There had been the first fall of the snow, and "ye Antiente Citie"
looked like some town in dreamland, or in fairyland, as Miss Melford's
boarders (myself amongst the number) went through its streets and wynds
to the ballad concert (in aid of Crumblebolme's Charity), at which
Mamselle, then La Narda, the _cantatrice_, was announced to sing. We
were naturally much excited; it seemed, as Ivy Davis remarked, almost as
though we were all going to sing in public.

We had front seats, quite near the tapestried platform from whence we
took note of the audience.

"Look, look!" whispered Milly Reed eagerly. "The Countess of Jesmond,
and the house-party at Coss have come to hear _our_ Mamselle. That dark,
handsome man next the countess is Count Mirloff, the Russian poet. Just
think I----"

What more Milly would have said I really cannot say, for just then there
was a soft clapping of hands, and La Narda came down the crimson steps
of the Justice Room, and advanced to the footlights.

"She's like a fairy queen! She's just too lovely!" said the
irrepressible Ivy. And though Miss Melford shook her head, I am sure she
also was of the same opinion, and was proud of my dear brown
nightingale.

The _petite_ figure was robed in white silk, trimmed with frosted leaves
and pink roses, and wore a garland of the same on her dark bright head.

    "Tell me, thou bonnie bird,
    When shall I marry me?
    When three braw gentlemen
    Churchward shall carry ye,"

sang the sweet full voice, and we listened entranced. The next song was
"Robin Adair."

Then came an encore, and as Narda acknowledged it, an accident occurred
which (as the newspapers say) might have had a fatal termination.

A flounce of the singer's dress touched the footlights, and the flame
began to creep upwards like a snake of fire.

Narda glanced downward, drew back, and was about to try to crush it out
with her hands, when in less time than it takes to tell it, the Russian
gentleman sprang forward, wrapped his fur-lined coat about her, and
extinguished the flame.

The poet had saved the nightingale, and Miss Melford's romantic girls
unanimously resolved "that he ought to marry her."


III.

And he did shortly after. Our some time music-teacher who was good
enough for any position became a _grande dame_ with a mansion in St.
Petersburg, and a country house in Livania. She went to balls at the
Winter Palace, and was present at all the court ceremonies.

Yet was she still our Narda, she sent us girls presents of Viennese
bonbons and French fruit, bought brother Carlo's paintings, sent
_petite_ Nita as a boarder to Miss Melford's, and studied under a great
_maestro_.

When a wee birdie came into the Russian nest she named it Endora Gloria,
and her happiness and my pride were complete.

Then came a great--a terrible blow. The count, whose opinions were
liberal, was accused of being implicated in a revolutionary rising. He
was cast into prison, and sent to the silver mines to work in the long
underground passages for twenty years.

Ivy Davis, who was very romantic, was grievously disappointed because
the countess returned to her profession instead of sharing her husband's
exile. But there came a day and an hour when she honoured as well as
loved the _cantatrice_; for she with Heaven's help freed the count, and
obtained his pardon from the Czar--she herself shall tell you how she
gained it.

Read the letter she sent to me:--


"Gloria, Alexis is free; he is nursing Endora as I write.

"When the officers took him from me I felt half mad, and knew
not where to go.

"One morning as I knelt by my little one's white bed an
inspiration came; over the mantel was a picture of 'The Good
Shepherd,' and I clasped my hands, and cried aloud:

"'O bon Pasteur, help me to free Thy sheep.'

"And lo, a voice seemed to answer: 'Daughter, use the talent
that you have.'

"I rose from my knees knowing what course to pursue. I sought
new opportunities for the display of my one talent, I was more
than successful, I became Narda the prima donna, and won golden
guineas and opinions.

"At last came my opportunity. I was to sing at Bayreuth in
Wagner's glorious opera, I was to sing the Swan Song, and the
Czar was to be present.

"The house was crowded, there was row upon row, tier after tier
of faces, but I saw one only--that of the Czar in his box.

"I stood there before the footlights in shining white, and sang
my song.

"The heavenly music rose and fell, died away and rose again, and
I sang as I had never done before. I sang for home, love, and
child.

"When the curtain fell the Czar sent for me and complimented me
graciously, offering me a diamond ring which I gratefully
refused.

"'Sire,' I said, 'I ask for a gift more costly still.'

"'Is it,' he asked, 'a necklace?'

"'No, sire, it is my husband's pardon. Give my little daughter
her father back.'

"He frowned, hesitated, then said that he would inquire into the
matter.

"Gloria, he did, God be praised! The evidence was sifted, much
of it was found to be false. The pardon was made out. Your
nightingale had sung with her breast against a thorn, 'her song
had been a prayer which Heaven itself had heard.'"



II--ESTELLA: THE HEIRESS.


Her Christian name Estella Marie, her starry eyes and pale, earnest
face, and her tall, lissom figure were the only beautiful things about
Estella Keed. Everything else, dress, home, appointments, were exceeding
plain. For her grandfather in whose house she lived was, though
reputedly wealthy, a miserly man.

He lived in a large and antique house, with hooded windows, in Mercer's
Lane, and was a dealer in antiques and curios. And his popular sobriquet
was Simon the Saver (Anglicè, miser).

Stella was the only child of his only son, a clever musician, who had
allied himself with a troupe of wandering minstrels, and married a
Spaniard attached to the company, and who, when he followed his wife
into the silent land, bequeathed his little girl to his father,
beseeching him to overlook the estrangement of years, and befriend the
orphan child. She inherited her name Estella from her Spanish mother,
but they called her Molly in her new home--it was part of her
discipline.

Simon Keed had accepted, and fulfilled the trust in his own peculiar
way. That is to say, he had sheltered, fed, and clothed Estella, and
after some years' primary instruction in a elementary school, had sent
her to Miss Melford's to complete her studies.

Farther than this he had not gone, for she was totally without a proper
outfit. In summer her patched and faded print frocks presented a
pathetic contrast to the pink and blue cambrics, and floral muslins, of
the other girls; and in winter, when velvets and furs were in evidence,
the contrast made by her coarse plain serge, and untrimmed cape of Irish
frieze, was quite as strong; indeed, her plainness was more than
Quakerish, it was Spartan, she was totally destitute of the knicknacks
so dear to the girlish heart, and though she had grown used to looking
at grapes like Reynard in the fable, I am sure she often felt the sting
of her grandfather's needless, almost cruel, economy. This was evidenced
by what was ever after spoken of by us girls as the garden-party
episode.

Near the old city was a quaint and pretty village, one famed in local
history as having in "teacup," Georgian, times been honoured by a visit
by Mrs. Hannah More, who described it as Arcadian.

It had a fine, well-timbered park, full of green hollows in which grew
the "'rath primrose," and which harboured a large, Jacobean mansion,
occupied, at the period of this story, by Dr. Tempest as a Boys'
Preparatory School, and as Mrs. Tempest was an old friend of Miss
Melford's, the senior pupils (both boarders and day scholars) were
always invited to their annual garden- or breaking-up party, which was
held in the lovely park.

Stella, as one of the senior girls, was duly invited; but no one deemed
that she would accept the invitation, because her grandfather had been
heard to say that education was one thing, and frivolity another.

"I suppose _you_ won't go to the party," said impulsive Ivy Davis, and
Estella had answered with a darkened face:

"I cannot say. When I'm not here I have to stay in that gloomy old
house, like a mouse in its hole. But if I can go anyhow, Ivy, I shall,
you may depend upon _that_."

Then we heard no more about the matter until the eventful day, when, to
our surprise, Estella presented herself with the other day scholars, in
readiness to go.

"Look, Gloria, look," said Ivy, in a loud whisper, as we filed through
the hall, "Stella's actually managed to come, and to make herself
presentable. _However_ did she do it?"

"Hush," I whispered back, but, all the same, I also marvelled at the
girl's appearance.

Her heliotrope and white muslin skirt was somewhat faded, it was true,
but still, it was good material, and was pretty. The same could be said
of her cream blouse. The marvel and the mystery lay in hat, necklet, and
shoes.

The hat was of burnt straw, broad brimmed, low crowned, and of the
previous summer's fashion. It was simply trimmed with a garland or band
of dull black silk, and large choux of the same, all of which might have
been fresher; but in front was an antique brooch, or buckle, of pale
pink coral and gold, which was at once beautiful and curiously
inconsistent with the rest of the costume. Round Estella's throat was a
lovely gold and coral necklace, and her small, worn shoes boasted coral
and gold buckles. She had got a coral set from somewhere, where and how
we all wondered.

Even Miss Melford was astonished and impressed by Estella's unwonted
splendour, for touching the necklet, I overheard her say:

"Very pretty, my dear! Your grandfather, I presume, gave you the set?
Very kind of him!"

Stella, with a flushed face, replied:

"He did not give it, ma'am," and the matter dropped.

Miss Melford and I presumed that Mr. Keed had simply lent his
grand-daughter the articles--which likely enough belonged to his stock
of antiquities--for the day.

It was a delightful fête--one of those bright and happy days which are
shining milestones along the road of life. The peacocks strutted about
on the terrace and made us laugh when they spread out their tails. We
ate strawberries and cream under the elms, played all kinds of outdoor
games on the greensward, and when we were tired rested in the cool,
pot-pourri scented parlours.

I am of opinion that Estella enjoyed herself as much as any of us,
though she became strangely quiet and downcast on our way home. But, as
Ivy truly remarked, it was not to be wondered at; the fairy palace was
left behind, and the rôle of Cinderella awaited her on the morrow.

Upon the day succeeding the party, we broke up. I went home to spend the
vacation with my uncle and aunt, and when I returned to school I found
as usual, on reassembling, that there were a few vacant places, amongst
them that of Estella Keed. I wondered how this was, though I did not
presume to question Miss Melford on the subject; but one autumn morning,
when passing through Mercer's Lane, I came across Estella. She looked
shabby and disconsolate, in her faded gown and worn headgear, and I
asked her if she had been unwell.

"Oh dear no," was the response, "only very dull. I never go anywhere, or
see any one--how can I help being so? I am only Molly now. No one calls
me by my beautiful mother's name, Estella. I want to learn to be a
typewriter, or something, and go and live in a big city, but grandpa
says I must wait, and then he'll see about it! I detest this horrid
lane!" she added passionately.

I looked down the long, mediæval street, with its gabled houses, and
then at the old church tower (round which the birds were circling in the
distance), and replied with truth that it was picturesque, and carried
one back into the storied past.

"I am tired of the past--it's all past at ours--the jewels have been
worn by dead women, the old china, and bric-à-brac, has stood in empty
houses! It's all of the dead and gone. So is the house, all the rooms
are old. I should like to live in a new house."

"Perhaps you want a change?" I said. "Why don't you come back to
school?"

She shook her head, and glanced away from me--up at the old Gothic
church tower, and then said hurriedly:

"I must hurry on now, Gloria--I am wanted--at home."

One December evening not long after, during Miss Melford's hour with us,
at recreation, she said:

"Young ladies, you will be pleased to hear that your old schoolmate,
Estella Keed, returns to us to-morrow."

On the morrow Estella came, but how different was she from the old and
the former Estella!

She wore a suitable and becoming costume of royal blue, and was a
beautiful and pleasant looking girl! Her own natural graces had their
own proper setting. It seemed indeed as if all things had become new to
her, as if she lived and breathed in a fresher and fairer world than of
yore!

Perhaps because I had been sympathetic in the hour of trouble, she
attached herself to me, and one day, during recess, she told me why she
had been temporarily withdrawn from school.

"Gloria," she said, "grandfather never gave me his permission to go to
the garden-party--indeed, I never asked for it, for I was quite sure
that he would not give it.

"But I meant to go all the same, and persuaded Mrs. Mansfield, the
housekeeper, to help me. She it was who altered and did up an old gown
of mother's for me to wear. But without the coral set I should not have
been able to go; for, as you know, I had no adornments. I'd often seen
them when on sale and wished for them; but I knew that they would
neither be given nor lent for the party.

"Then Fate, as it seemed, befriended me; my grandfather had to go to
London about some curios on the date fixed for the party, and I
determined to borrow the set and make myself look presentable. All I had
to do was to go to the window and take them out of their satin-lined
case.

"I hoped to replace them before my grandfather returned from town, but
when I got home from the fête I found that he had returned by an earlier
and quicker train than he himself had expected to. He looked at me from
head to foot, then touched the necklace and the clasp, and demanded of
me sternly where I had been.

"I was tongue-tied for a few moments, and then I blurted out the truth:

"'Grandfather,' I said, 'I've been to Dr. Tempest's garden-party as one
of Miss Melford's senior girls, and as I didn't want to be different
from the other girls I borrowed the coral set for the day. They are not
hurt in the least.'

"The room seemed going round with me as I spoke, even the dutch cheese
on the supper table seemed to be bobbing up and down.

"At last my grandfather spoke:

"'Take the set off and give them to me,' he said shortly.

"I yielded up the treasures with trembling hands, and when I had done so
he told me I should not return to school, and then added:

"'Go to your room and don't let me hear of this affair again. I fear you
are as fond of finery as your mother was.'

"You know the rest. I did not return to Miss Melford's, and I should not
have been here now but for Dr. Saunders. Soon after the garden-party my
grandfather was taken ill, and the doctor had to be called in. I think
he must have taken pity on me, and must have spoken to my grandfather
about me. Anyhow, my grandfather called me to his bedside one day, and
told me that he knew that he could not live many years longer, and that
all he wanted was to leave me able--after he was gone--to live a good
and useful life without want, and that if he had been too saving in the
past, it was all that my future should be provided for. There was a
strange tenderness in his voice. Strange at least it seemed to me, for I
had never heard it there before, and I put my face down upon the pillow
beside him and cried. He took my hand in his, and the silence was more
full of hope and promise than any words of either could have been. I
waited upon him after that, and he seemed to like to have me about him,
and when he got better he told me that he wished me to return to school
and to make the best use of my opportunities while I had them. He told
me that he had decided to make me an allowance for dress, and that he
hoped that I should so use it as to give him proof before he died that
I could be trusted to deal wisely with all that he might have to leave."

Estella remained at school until I left, and the last time I saw her
there she was wearing the red coral set which had estranged her from her
grandfather as a token of reconciliation; and she told me that the old
man's hands trembled in giving them to her, even more than hers did in
giving them up, as he said to her with tears in his eyes and voice:--

"All that I have is thine."



III.--MAURA: THE MUNIFICENT.


I.

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT.


Maura was the most popular girl in the school. She would have been
envied if she had not been so much loved. The reason was that she was
amiable as well as pretty, she had plenty of pocket-money, and was
generous to a fault. If a girl had lost, or mislaid, her gloves, Maura
would instantly say, "Oh, don't make a fuss, go to my glove-box and take
a pair." Or if a pupil's stock of pin-money ran out before the end of
the quarter, she would slip a few shillings into her hand, merrily
whispering:

    "For every evil under the sun,
    There's either a remedy, or there's none;
        _I've_ found one."

Maura was heiress of Whichello-Towers, in the north, with the broad
lands appertaining. She was an orphan, her nearest relative being her
uncle, a banker, who was her guardian, and somewhat anxious about his
charge. So anxious indeed that he sometimes curtailed her allowance, in
order to teach her prudence.

"Maura, my dear, waste is wicked even in the wealthy; you need wisdom as
well as wealth," said Miss Melford to her one day. And indeed she did,
for sometimes the articles she bought for others were singularly
extravagant and inappropriate.

When Selina, the rosy-cheeked cook, was married from the school, the
teachers and pupils naturally gave her wedding presents. My gift took
the form of a teapot, Margot's of a dozen of fine linen handkerchiefs,
and the others (with the exception of Maura) of things useful to a
country gardener's wife.

Maura bought a dress of heliotrope silk, elaborately trimmed with white
lace, and as the bride truly observed, "Fit for a princess."

But the heiress of Whichello had a lodging in all our hearts, and when
I, one midwinter morning, saw her distraught with a troubled look in her
soft brown eyes, I was grieved, and begged her to confide in me.

"If I do, you cannot help me, Gloria," said Maura. "The fact is, I'm
short of money."

"Not an unusual state of affairs," rose to my lips, but the words
changed as I uttered them.

"Poor Maura! Surely _you_ have a little left?"

"Only these," and she drew out two shillings.

"Well, you must draw on my little bank, until your uncle sends your next
remittance," was my reply.

"It isn't any use. Gloria, you are nice, and sweet, but _your_ money
would only be a drop in the ocean! I'm not to have any money all next
quarter. This letter came this morning. Read it."

I did. It was a letter from Maura's guardian, who informed her that he
desired to give her an object lesson in thrift, and, therefore, would
hold her next remittance--which had already been anticipated--over. He
also intimated that any applications to him would be useless.

"Well, things might be worse," was my comment, as I returned the letter.
"You must let _me_ be your banker and must economise, and be prudent
till the next cheque arrives."

"Yes, I will--but----"

"But what, Maura?"

"I'm in debt--dreadfully in debt. See."

With this she drew some papers from her pocket, and handed them to me.

One by one I looked them over. The first was a coal dealer's bill for a
fairly large load of coal.

"_That_," said Maura, "was for old Mrs. Grant, in Black-Cross Buildings.
She was _so_ cold, it made me quite creepy to look at her."

I opened another. This was from a firm of motor-car and cycle dealers,
and was the balance due upon a lady's cycle. I was perplexed.

"Why, you said you never intended to cycle," I said, with amazement,
"and _now_ you have bought this Peerless bicycle!"

"Yes, but it was not for myself," she said, "I gave it to Meg Morrison
to ride to and from her work in the City! Trams and 'buses don't run to
Kersley, and it was a terrible walk for the poor girl."

"Could not Meg have bought one on the instalment system for herself?"

"Why, Gloria, how mean you are! She has seven brothers and sisters, and
four of them are growing boys, with appetites! The butcher and baker
claim just all she earns."

I opened the third yellow envelope, and was surprised to see a bill
with: To Joseph Greenaway, Furniture Dealer, one child's mahogany cot £1
10_s_, upon it.

"Maura," I cried, "this is the climax. Why ever did you buy a baby's
cot--and how came Mr. Greenaway to trust you? You are only a minor--an
infant in law!"

"Oh, do stop," said Maura; "you're like Hermione or Rosalind,
or--somebody--who put on a barrister's gown in the play----"

"Portia, I suppose you mean?"

"Yes, Portia. Mr. Greenaway let me have the cot because I once bought a
little blue chair from him, for Selina's baby, for which I paid _cash
down_."

It is impossible to describe the triumphant manner in which she uttered
"cash down," it was as if she had said, _I_ paid the national debt.

"Now," she proceeded, "I'll tell you why I bought it--I was one day
passing a weaver's house in Revel Lane, when I saw a young woman crying
bitterly but silently at the bottom of one of the long entries or
passages. 'I fear you are in trouble' I said. 'Is any one ill?'

"She shook her head. She couldn't speak for a moment, then whispered:

"'Daisie's cot has followed the loom!'

"I asked her what following the loom meant.

"'O young lady,' she replied, 'the weaver's trade has been mortle bad
lately, and last week I sold Daisie's cot for the rent--and when the
broker took it up I thought my heart would break; but hearts don't
break, missie, they just go on achin'.'

"Daisie was her only child, and the cot was a carved one, an heirloom in
which several generations of the family had slept!

"I had only a florin in my purse, but I gave her that, took her name and
address and walked on.

"But the woman haunted me. All the rest of the day I seemed to see her
weeping in the long, grey street, and to hear _her_ sobbing above the
sound of the music in the music-room, and when I woke up in the middle
of the night, I thought I would go to Mr. Greenaway the next day, and
ask him to let me have a cot, and I'd pay him out of my next quarter's
pocket-money. The very next day he sent the crib--'From an unknown
friend.' That's all, Gloria! Now, what shall I do?"

"Go and tell Miss Melford all about it," said I. "Come, _now_."

Maura shrank from the ordeal, but in the end I persuaded her to
accompany me to the cedar parlour, where the Lady Principal was writing.

A wood fire burned cheerily on the white marble hearth, and the winter
sunlight fell brightly on the flower-stand full of flowers--amidst which
the piping bullfinch, Puffball, hopped about.

Miss Melford, with her satin-brown hair, and golden-brown silk dress,
was a pleasant figure to look upon as she put down her pen, and said
sweetly:

"Well, girls, what is it?"

Maura drew back and was silent, but I was spokeswoman for her; and when
I concluded my story there was silence for a few moments.

Then Miss Melford rose, and putting an arm round Maura's shoulders,
gravely, but at the same time tenderly, in her own sweet way, pointed
out the moral of the situation, and then added:

"You shall accompany me to see the people who have generously (if
unwisely) allowed you to have the goods, and I will explain matters, and
request them to wait."

Maura was a quiet, subdued girl for a time after this, but a few days
later she knocked timidly at Miss Melford's door. Miss Melford was
alone, and bade her enter. Once in the room Maura hesitated, and then
said:

"Please, Miss Melford, may I ask a favour?"

"Certainly, my dear! What is it?"

"If I can find any right and honourable way of earning the money to pay
the bills with, may I do so?"

"Assuredly," said Miss Melford, "if you will submit your plan to my
approval; but, Maura, I am afraid you will find it is harder to earn
money than you think."

"Oh yes, I know money is hard to get, and very, very easy to spend. What
a queer world it is!" was Maura's comment, as she left the room.


II.

THE BAL MASQUÉ.


There was to be a Children's Fancy Dress Ball--a Bal Masqué, to which
all Miss Melford's senior pupils were going, and little else was talked
of weeks before the great event was due!

Margot was to go as Evangeline, and I was to be Priscilla the Puritan
Maiden, but none of us knew in what character Maura Merle was to appear.
It was kept secret.

Knowing the state of her finances, both Miss Melford and the girls
offered to provide her costume, but she gratefully and firmly rejected
both proposals, saying that she had made arrangements for a dress, and
that it would be a surprise.

And indeed it was, for when we all assembled in the white drawing-room,
in readiness for our escort to the Town Hall, Maura was what newspapers
style "the cynosure of all eyes."

She wore a frock of pale blue silk! and all over it in golden letters
were the words: "Sweets from Fairyland."

Her waving golden hair was adorned by a small, white satin, Trigon hat,
ornamented with a blue band, on which were the words: "Fairy Queen."

From her waist depended an elaborate bonbonnière, her sash was dotted
all over with imitation confections of various kinds, her blue satin
shoes had rosettes of tiny bonbons, and her domino suggested chocolate
cream.

There were of course loud exclamations of--"What does this mean, Maura?"

"Why, you are Fairy Queen, like the Fairyland Confectioner's Company's
advertisements!" but all Maura said was:

"Girls, Miss Melford knows all about it, and approves."

At this juncture, Miss Melford's voice was heard saying: "Follow me, my
dears," and we all filed out of the room, and down the stairs to the
carriages in waiting. The Town Hall was beautifully decorated, and the
costumes were delightful. There were cavaliers, sweeps, princesses, and
beggar-maids, but no one attracted more notice than Fairy Queen, who
instead of dancing glided about amongst the company, offering fondants
and caramels from her big bonbonnière.

The young guests laughed as they ate the sweetmeats, and rallied her
upon the character she had chosen.

"Why have you left Fairyland?" asked a musketeer, and Fairy Queen
replied:

"Because I want you all to have fairy fare."

"Won't you dance, Fairy Queen?" asked Bonnie Prince Charlie,
persuasively, but Fairy Queen curtsied, and answered:

"I pray you excuse me, I'm on duty for the Company in Wayverne Square."

I guessed that there was something behind all this, and the sequel
proved my conjecture true.

For when the Bal Masqué was a golden memory, Maura came to me with a
little bundle of receipted bills in her hand, saying:

"Look, Gloria, "Fairy Queen" paid _these_. I was with Ivy in a
confectioner's one day when the mistress told us that a member of the
newly started firm of sweetmeat manufacturers, who traded as the
Fairyland Company, had said that he wished _he_ had a daughter who could
go to the ball as Fairy Queen, and exploit his goods.

"I thought to myself: 'Well, Maura Merle could do it,' and I went to the
Company and offered to undertake the duty, subject, of course, to Miss
Melford's permission.

"They said they would give me a handsome sum, and provide the dress, and
I wrote to Uncle Felix, and begged him to let me have his sanction.

"His answer was: 'The money will be honestly earned, earn it.'

"So I did! The Company were much pleased with me, and here are the
receipted bills. I need hardly tell you how much I enjoyed being what a
newsboy in the street called me, 'The Little Chocolate Girl!'"



IV.--MARGOT: THE MARTYR.


I.

AT SCHOOL.


"Mademoiselle Margot, Professor Revere's daughter, who has come to share
your English studies, girls," said Miss Melford, presenting a tall,
clear-complexioned, sweet-faced girl one May morning on the opening of
school.

The new-comer bowed gracefully, and then took a vacant seat next to me,
and we all took good-natured notice of her, for her black frock was worn
for her newly lost mother, and her father, our popular French master,
was an exile, who for a supposed political offence had forfeited his
estate, near La Ville Sonnante, as the old city of Avignon is often
called. Margot would have been _une grande demoiselle_ in her own
country had not monsieur fallen under the displeasure of a powerful
cabinet minister during a change of _régime_, and Miss Melford's girls
were of opinion that the position would have suited her, and she the
position.

Mademoiselle Margot soon interested us all, not only in herself, but in
her antecedents and prospects. She was never tired of talking of her old
associations, and that with an enthusiasm that aroused our sympathy and
inspired our hopes.

"Picture to yourself," she would say, "Mon Désir on a summer's day, the
lawns spreading out their lovely carpet for the feet, the trees waving
their glorious foliage overhead, the birds singing in the branches, the
bees humming in the parterre, and the water plashing in the fountains.
_Maman_ loved it, as I did, and the country people loved us as we loved
them. _Maman_ used to say, 'A little sunshine, a little love, a little
self-denial, that is life.' Even had we been poor there, walked instead
of ridden, ate brown bread in lieu of white, we should have been amongst
our own people. But now----"

Then we would all crowd round her and spin romances about the Prince
Charming who would come her way, and present her with Mon Désir, with
all its dear delights, and with it--his own hand.

Margot's failing was a too sensitive pride. She was proud both of and
for the professor. She could not forget that he was, as she would say,
_un grand gentilhomme_, that his ancestors had fought with Bayard and
Turenne, had been gentlemen-in-waiting to kings, had wedded women who
were ladies of the court.

I discovered this slight fault of my darling's on one occasion in this
way: as we girls were going our usual noonday walk, we came to a large,
red-brick house, standing alone in its own grounds; it was not a cottage
of gentility, but a place which an estate agent would have described as
a desirable mansion. Everything about it, mutely, but eloquently, said
money. Big glass-houses, big coach-houses, big plate glass windows,
spacious gardens, trim lawns, etc., etc., etc.

As the school filed past, an elaborate barouche drew up to the iron
gateway, and a lady, who was about entering it, stared at our party, and
then looked keenly at Margot. She was a pretty woman, blonde, with a
mass of fluffy, honey-coloured hair, and a cold, pale blue pair of eyes.
Her costume was of smooth, blue-grey cloth, the flowing cloak lined with
ermine, and her hat a marvel of millinery; indeed, she presented a
striking contrast to the professor's daughter in her plain, neat black
coat and frock, and small toque, with its trimming of white narcissi,
and I cannot say that I was favourably impressed by the unknown, she was
far too cold and purse-proud looking to please me.

After a close and none too polite scrutiny, the lady bowed, approached,
and held out her hand.

"Good-morning, Miss Revere," she said graciously, yet with more than a
suspicion of patronage, "I trust the professor is well," and without
waiting for an answer, "and your mother? We have been so busy
entertaining, that I have been quite unable to call, or send! However,
tell her that I am going to send for her to Bellevue, the very _first_
day I'm alone, the _very first_!"

We two girls were alone (the rest having gone on with Fräulein
Schwartze), and there was silence for a moment, during which the lady
turned toward her well-appointed carriage; then Margot spoke, with some
asperity, though I heard the tears in her silvery voice.

"Mrs. Seawood," she said, "there is no more need to trouble; _maman_ has
gone where no one will be ashamed of her because she was poor."

The lady turned a little pale, and expressed herself as shocked, and
then, having offered some cold condolences, spoke to the coachman; and
as we passed on we heard the quick rattle of the horses' hoofs, as the
barouche rolled down the long drive.

There are times when silence is golden, and _this_ was one! I did not
speak until we came to a five-barred gate, on the topmost rung of which
Margot laid her arms, bent her head, and sobbed like a little child.

I put my arm round her neck to comfort her.

"Margot, _chérie_," I whispered, "tell me why you weep."

It appeared that the professor had been used to teach the little
delicate son of the purse-proud lady, and that he had taken great
interest in the little fellow both on account of his backwardness and
frail health.

"After he died," said Margot, "his mother seemed grateful for these
small kindnesses, and called upon us. Sometimes she sent the carriage
for _maman_ to spend a few hours at Bellevue, but always when the
weather was unpleasant. Then, you see, I used to go to the Seawoods for
my mother, take bouquets of violets, Easter eggs, and other small
complimentary tokens of regard, and madame would exclaim, 'How sweet!'
or 'How lovely!' but always in a patronising manner. I only told the
'How sweet!' and 'How beautiful!' to mother, because _she_ used to look
wistfully at me, and say how glad she was that I had some English
friends.

"Once, I remember, I was passing Bellevue at night with papa; it was a
cold, January evening, with snow falling, and we shivered a little.
They were giving a grand party, the house was lit up like an enchanted
palace, and papa (who is often as sweetly simple as Don Quixote) said:

"'I cannot understand why your friends have overlooked you, _petite_,
you could have worn the little grey frock with blue trimmings, eh?'

"They never understood how hollow a friendship it was. They could not
realise that others could display a meanness of which they themselves
were incapable, and I suppose it was only my own proud heart, less free
from the vanity of human weakness than theirs, which made me detect and
resent it; and so I had to endure the misery of this proud patronage and
let my parents think I was enjoying the friendship of love. To be proud
and dependent, Gloria, is to be poor indeed. But I must conquer my
pride, if only that I may conquer my poverty, and as Miss Melford told
us at scripture this morning, he that conquers his own proud heart is
greater than he that taketh a city."

Then she linked her arm in mine, and said:

"The Good God has allowed me to become poor, but he has given me _one_
talent, I can paint, and if only for papa's sake I must overcome evil
with good and try to win a victory over myself."


II.

THE PALM-BEARERS.


Miss Melford, and a chosen party of the senior girls (of whom I was
one), stood in our beautiful Art Gallery attentively studying a water
colour on the line. The picture was numbered 379 in the catalogue, was
called "Palm-Bearers," and was painted by Miss Margot Revere! _Our
Margot_, the girl who had been my classmate, whom I had loved as a
sister. The scene portrayed was a procession of early Christians
entering an Eastern city at Eastertide. There were matrons and maids,
golden-haired children, and white-haired men, all bearing green palm
branches, under an intense, cerulean sky.

"Well done, Margot," said Miss Melford softly, with a suspicious dimness
in her eyes, and there was a general chorus of approval from all
beholders.

Margot, who was much older than I, had left school long since, had
studied, worked, copied in the great Art Galleries, exhibited, and sold
her works.

She was then in Rome with her father, who had become blind, and I had at
that moment a long letter from her in my bag, as I stood looking at her
picture. In one passage of it she had written: "the girl with the crown
of white roses in my last painting is my little Gloria, my girl comrade,
who consoled me when I was sad, who watched next my pillow when I was
sick, and when sad memories made me cry at night crept to me through the
long dormitory and knelt beside me, like a white-robed ministering
angel. Apropos of palms, mama was a palm-bearer; I must win one before I
look on her dear, dear face." As I thought on these words, Miss
Melford's voice speaking to Gurda broke in on my thoughts.

"Dear, dear, how extremely like to Gloria is that figure in the middle
of Margot's painting!"

"Of course, Miss Melford, Margot will have sketched it from her. She was
her chum, her soul's sister."

"Her soul's sister!" Those three words went with me through the gallery;
into the sculpture room, amidst white marble figures, into the room full
of Delia Robbia and majolica ware, everywhere!

Even when we descended the flight of steps, and came into the great
white square, I seemed to hear them in the plashing of the fountains.


III.

THE RAIN OF FIRE.


It was August, and rain had fallen on the hot, parched earth.

The bells in the church tower were ringing a muffled peal, and as I
listened to the sad, sweet music, I thought of Margot, lonely Margot,
who had seen her father laid under the ilex trees, and then gone to
visit a distant relative at Château Belair in the West Indies. It was a
strange coincidence, but as I thought of her the servant brought in a
card, bearing the name, M. Achille Levasseur, beneath which was
pencilled:

"Late of Château Belair, and cousin of the late Mademoiselle Margot
Revere."

So Margot was dead, had gone to join her loved ones where there are no
distinctions between rich and poor.

Stunned, and half incredulous, I told the maid to show him in, and in a
few minutes a tall, dark, foreign looking man stood in the bright,
flower-scented room which (it being recess), I occupied in Miss
Melford's absence.

I rose, bowed, and asked him to be seated, then, with an effort, said:

"M'sieu, I am Gloria, Margot's chum, and chosen sister. Tell _me_ about
her."

The story was a short one, we had neither of us a desire to dwell upon
the details. The island had been subject to the fury rain of a
quenchless volcano. Whole villages had been overwhelmed and buried in
the burning lava, and hundreds had met with a fiery death. In the midst
of the mad confusion, Margot's calm presence and example inspired the
strong, reassured the terrified, aided the feeble, and helped many on
the way to safety. How many owed their lives to her, her cousin could
not say, but that it was at the cost of her own, was only too terribly
true. She had helped her cousin's family on to the higher ground, which
ensured safety from the boiling lava, only to discover that one little
one had been left behind peacefully sleeping in her cot, the little
baby who had been christened Gloria at Margot's desire in memory of me.
It was a terrible moment to all but Margot, and to her it was the moment
of a supreme inspiration. She dashed down the hill before she could be
stayed, though the ground shook under her feet, and the burning sea of
fiery rain was pouring down the valley below. She reached the house and
seized the infant, and started with frenzied speed to ascend the hill
again. Her cousin, who had seen to the safety of the others of his
family, had now started out to meet her. They saw each other and hurried
with all the speed they could to meet. Within touch a terrific explosion
deafened them as the father seized his child, and Margot, struck by a
boulder belched from the throat of the fierce volcano, sank back into
the fiery sea.

As M. Levasseur ceased, there came through the open window the silvery
sound of the minster bells. They were playing the lovely air,

    Angels ever bright and fair,
    Take, O take, me to your care.

It came to me that they had taken Margot in a chariot of fire, and I
seemed to see her in an angel throng with a palm branch in her hand.

My favourite trinket is a heart-shaped locket, containing a lock of dark
brown hair, intermixed with golden threads. It is both a souvenir, and a
mascot; for the hair is from the head of my girl chum Margot.



V.--IRENE: THE SNOW FLOWER.


I.

BEDFELLOWS.


Amongst Miss Melford's intimate friends, when I was a boarder at her
school, was a silvery-haired, stately lady, known as Mrs. Dace, who in
her early life had been _gouvernante_ to the Imperial children at the
court of the Czar. Her old friends and pupils wrote to her frequently,
and she still took a keen interest in the Slav, and in things Slavonic.

When her Russian friends--the Petrovskys--came to England, they left
their youngest child, Irene, as a pupil at Miss Melford's school, to
pursue her education while they travelled in Western Europe for a while.

Irene Petrovsky was a pretty little thing, with flaxen hair and clear
blue eyes, and we called her the Snow Flower, after that beautiful
Siberian plant which blooms only in midwinter. I have never forgotten
her first appearance at the school. When Miss Melford led her into the
classroom we all looked up at the small figure in its plain white cloth
frock trimmed with golden sable, and admired the tiny fair curls which
clustered round her white brow. She made a grand court curtsey, and then
sat silently, like a wee white flower, in a corner.

We elder pupils were made guardians of the younger ones in Miss
Melford's school, and it was my duty as Irene's guardian to take her to
rest in the little white nest next to mine in the long dormitory. In the
middle of the first night I was disturbed by a faint sobbing near me,
and I sat up to listen. The sobs proceeded from the bed of the little
Russian girl, and I found she was crying for her elder sister, who, she
said, used to take her in her arms and hold her by the hand until she
fell asleep. A happy thought came to me; my white nest was larger than
hers. So I bade her creep into it, which she readily did, and nestled up
to me, like a trembling, affrighted little bird, falling at last into a
calm, sweet sleep.

From that time forward we two were firm friends, and the girls used to
call the Little Russ, Gloria's shadow.

She was very grateful, and I in my turn grew to love her dearly; so
dearly that when her father, the count, came to take her home, in
consequence of the death of her mother, I felt as if I had lost a little
sister.

Ever after this our little snow flower was a fragrant memory to me. I
often thought of her, and wondered as I watched the white clouds moving
across the summer sky, or the silver moon shining in the heavens,
whether she too was looking out upon the same fair scene from the other
side the sea and thinking of her some time sister of Miss Melford's
school.


II.

AFTER MANY DAYS.


Some years after I had left the school financial difficulties beset my
uncle's affairs. Aunt Ducie died in the midst of them, and Uncle Gervase
did not long survive. Our household gods went under the auctioneer's
hammer, our beautiful home became the home of strangers, and I went to
live in an obscure quarter of a distant town. My means being exceeding
small, I took rooms in a small house in a semi-rural suburb, and from
thence began to look for work for pen and pencil. I had learned to draw,
and had succeeded in one or two small attempts at story telling, and
with my pen and pencil for crutches, and with youth and hope on my side,
I started out with nervous confidence upon the highway of fame.

Cherry-Tree Avenue was a long, narrow street within a stone's throw of
the grim, grey castellated towers of the county gaol, and the weekly
tenants who took the small, red-brick houses were continually changing.

Facing us was No. 3, Magdala Terrace, a house which was empty for some
weeks, but one April evening a large van full of new furniture drove up
to it, followed by a respectable looking man and woman of the artisan
class, who soon began to set the house in order. Before sleep had fallen
on the shabby street a cab drove up to No. 3, and from it stepped a
woman, tall, slight, and closely veiled. I had been to the pillar box to
post an answer to an advertisement, and it happened that I passed the
door of the newly let house as the cab drew up. Without waiting to be
summoned, the trim young woman came out to welcome the new-comer, and
said in French:

"Madame, the place is poor, but clean, and quiet, and," lowering her
voice, "fitted for observation."

In spite of my own anxieties I wondered who the stranger could be, and
why the little house was to be an observatory. Then I remembered the
vicinity of the big gaol, and thought that madame might have an interest
in one of the black sheep incarcerated there.

Very soon strange rumours began to circulate amongst the dwellers in the
avenue. The bright young woman was madame's foster sister; madame
herself was of high degree, a countess, or one of even nobler rank,
travelling in disguise; the quiet, dark young man, her foster sister's
husband, was a woodcarver, who was out of work and only too glad to
serve the foreign lady, who out of generous pity had come to stay with
them.

I, of course, gave no credence to these seemingly absurd reports, but,
all the same, I was aware that there was a mystery at No. 3. The lady
was young, beautiful, and distinguished looking, she had dark, pathetic,
haunting eyes, which reminded me forcibly of other eyes I had seen, but
when and where I could not recall; and though her dresses were dark,
they were _chic_, the word Paris was writ plain on all her toques.

Madame made no friends, and it was clear from the first that she desired
to be undisturbed, at any rate by her neighbours. Every now and again
there were visitors at No 3, but these were strangers, foreign looking
visitors, cloaked, swarthy and sombre men who came and went, one of whom
I overheard say in French as he flicked the ash from his cigar: "Chut!
the rat keeps in his hole, he will not stir."

At Maytime, in the early gloaming, the foreign lady and I met in the
narrow street.

We met face to face, and passed each other with a slight bow of
recognition; a moment after I heard soft, hurried footfalls, and the
strange lady was by my side.

She held out an envelope addressed to me, saying:

"Pardon me, if I mistake not, you dropped this. Is it not so?"

I thanked her, and took the letter, saying:

"It _is_ mine, and I should have troubled had I lost it."

This little incident broke down our old-time reserve, and saying:

"I go to-morrow," she placed a bunch of amber roses she was carrying in
my hand. I thanked her, and asked by what name I might remember her?

"As Nadine," she whispered softly. "I need not ask you yours."

The mention of the name electrified me. Here was I bidding farewell to
Nadine, whose little sister Irene, our sweet snow flower, I had loved
and lost at the old school far away.

Nadine noticed my excitement, and putting her finger to her lips,
cautioned me to silence. But I was not to be denied.

"Irene?" I said in a whisper, "Irene, where is Irene?"

"Hush!" she said, taking me by the arm and drawing me in at the open
doorway of No. 3. "Speak of it not again. Irene fell a victim to our
cruel Russian laws, and lies beside her husband among the snow tombs of
Siberia."

The next morning the strange dark house was empty. The woodcarver and
his wife, and the beautiful Nadine, had vanished with the shadows of the
night.



VI.--NADINE: THE PRINCESS.


I.

WHICHELLO TOWERS.


It was between the lights. I was looking down the dingy street from
behind the curtains of my little window at the postman who was working
his way slowly from side to side delivering his messages of hope and
fear, and was wondering whether I was among those to whom he bore
tidings of joy or sorrow. I had few correspondents, and no expectations,
and so it was with surprise that I saw him ultimately turn in at our
little garden gate and place a letter in our box.

I was not long in breaking the seal, and it was with real delight and
surprise that I discovered that it was from my old schoolfellow, the
generous and sometimes extravagant Maura. It ran thus:

                                         "WHICHELLO TOWERS,
                                                  _October 3rd._

     "MY DEAR ABSURD LITTLE GLORIA,--

     "Why have you hidden away from your friends so long? Was it
     pride, self-styled dignity? Never mind, I have found you
     out at last, and I want you to join our house-party here.
     We have some interesting people with us of whom you can
     make pencil sketches and pen pictures (they call them
     cameos or thumbnails, do they not?). Amongst them are the
     beautiful Princess Milontine, who wrote, 'Over the
     Steppes,' and the famous Russian General, Loris Trakoff.

     "The change will do you good. Name the day and time of your
     arrival, and I will meet you at the station. There are
     surprises in store for you, but you must come if you would
     realise them.

                                     "Your affectionate MAURA."

I put by the missive, and meditated over the pros and cons. My wardrobe
would need replenishing, and I had none too much money to spend. I could
manage this, however, but there arose another question.

I was a worker--would it do me harm to disport myself in the flowery
mead with the butterflies? Should I feel a distaste for the bread earned
by labour and pain after the honey placed, effortless, on my plate?

So much for the cons. The pros were these:

Black, being most inexpensive in a smoky town, was my wear, relieved by
a few touches of blue. And I should not go as a butterfly, but as a
quiet worker in my dark things. I need only buy a new walking costume,
and a fresh dinner dress. The costume difficulty was disposed of. Then
again, I had been without a day's change for five years; and here was
the prospect of one I should enjoy. The pros had the victory, I went.

I arrived at the station in the gloaming, when twilight veiled the
everlasting hills, and found two figures waiting on the narrow platform.

One of these had a fresh, fair, bonnie face, framed in hair of a golden
brown, and I knew her for Maura Merle, my old schoolfellow, the lady of
Whichello Towers. The other was darker, taller, and the very dark blue
eyes had a pensive expression, she could have posed as a study for
Milton's _Il Pensoroso_, and I did not recognise her for an instant, and
then I exclaimed: "Not--not 'Stella."

"Yes, 'Stella," said Maura. Our own beautiful Estella and the miser's
heiress came forward and kissed my first surprise away. As she did so I
noticed that she was wearing the beautiful coral set which had wrought
the tragedy of her school days.

We had naturally much to say to each other, and as we walked towards
Whichello Towers together, Maura said:

"You have worked and suffered, Gloria, since we were last together. You
look thoughtful, are graver, and there are violet circles under your
eyes, which used to be so merry."

"Yes," I said, "I've had to fight the battle of life for myself since I
left school, but it makes the more welcome this reunion with my old
schoolfellows."

"Speaking of them," interposed Maura, "we have Princess Milontine
staying with us--little Irene's sister--I left her doing the honours on
my behalf when I came to meet you."

This then was the second surprise in store for me. Neither of my
companions had the slightest idea how great a surprise it was.

Naturally, we had much to talk of during our walk up to the Towers, Miss
Melford had passed away, and one or two of my old companions had
followed her across the border. Irene was, of course, one of them, but
I took the news of her death as though I had not heard it before.

I had not heard of Miss Melford's death previously, and the angel of
memory came down and troubled the waters of my soul, so I was silent for
a time.

The silence was broken by Maura, saying:

"There is something painful, if not tragical, connected with Irene's
death, of which the princess refuses to speak; so the subject is never
mentioned to her." And then, as if to change the subject, she added, "I
have named my little daughter Cordelia after Miss Melford, but we call
her Corrie."

As she spoke we came in sight of The Towers--a large, four-winged
mansion, with pepper box turrets, oriel windows, a square lawn, and many
tree-lined walks.

"Home," said Maura, and in a few minutes I found myself in the large
warm hall, bright with firelight, and sweet with autumn flowers.

Standing by a table, and turning over the leaves of a book, stood a
graceful woman in fawn and cream, who turned round upon our entrance,
saying:

"There is tea on the way, you will take some?"

"Thank you, princess, yes, directly we come down," said Maura, and then
she added: "See, I have brought an old friend to see you, Gloria,
Princess Milontine."

The foreign lady held out her hand, and as I took it I found myself
almost involuntarily murmuring, "Nadine." For the dark pathetic eyes of
the Russian princess were those of the mysterious foreigner who had
lodged in Cherry-Tree Avenue. She kissed me (foreign fashion) on both
cheeks, and as she did so whispered: "Hush! let the dead past sleep."

Wondering much, I held my peace and went to inspect the sunshine of
Whichello Towers, the pretty dimpled Corrie; and though I forgot the
incident during the evening, I remembered it when I found myself in my
own room.

Why had Nadine lived in the mean street with the so-called woodcarver
and his wife? She was a widow, true, but widows of rank do not usually
lodge in such humble places for pleasure. Then again, what was the
mystery attaching to Irene? Would the tangled skein ever be unravelled?
Time would show.

Whichello Towers was more than a great house, it was a home, a northern
liberty hall, surrounded by woods and big breezy moors. There was
something for every one in this broad domain. A fine library full of
rare editions of rare books, a museum of natural history specimens, a
gallery of antiquities, a lake on which to skate or row, preserves in
which to shoot, a grand ball-room with an old-world polished floor, a
long corridor full of pictures and articles of vertu, and a beautiful
music-room.

Princess Nadine and I were much together, we talked of her little
sister's school-days, but never of her latter ones, the subject was
evidently tabooed.

General Trakoff (a stern, military man who had once been governor of the
penal settlement of O----) was evidently devoted to the beautiful Russ,
and I found myself hoping that she would not become "Madame la
Générale," for though the general was the very pink of politeness, I
could not like him.

I had spent a happy fortnight at the Towers when the incident occurred
which will always remain the most vivid in my memory. A sudden and
severe frost had set in. All the trees turned to white coral, the lake
was frozen stone hard. There were naturally many skating parties
organised, and in these Nadine and I generally joined. One morning,
after we had been skating for nearly half an hour, the princess averred
herself tired, and said she would stand out for a time. The general
declared that he would also rest awhile, and the two left the lake
together, and stood watching the skaters at the edge of the pine wood.

By-and-by I too grew a little weary, and thought I would go for a stroll
by myself through the woods I loved so much. The air was fresh and keen,
squirrels jumped about in the trees, and the storm-cock sang blithely.
Through an opening in the glade I saw the princess and the general
chatting _en tête-à-tête_.

As I came up the former was saying, in a tone of earnest raillery:

"Now, tell me, general, is there nothing you regret doing, or having
allowed to be done, when you were administrator of O----?"

She spoke with a strange, almost tragic, earnestness, and when her
companion replied:

"No, on my honour, princess."

She bowed gravely. A moment later, with a careless laugh, she opened a
gold bonbonnière full of chocolate caramels, and held it temptingly
towards him.

He hesitated, and as he did so I put my arm through the branches, and
with a playful:

"By your leave, princess," attempted to help myself.

Nadine started, and closed the box with a snap, a strange pallor coming
over her white, set face. The general looked gravely at her, and then,
raising his hat, with a "Till we meet again," walked leisurely away.

I must own to being slightly offended, I was childishly fond of
chocolate, and the act seemed so inexplicably discourteous. We walked to
the house in silence, neither of us speaking, until we reached the side
entrance. Here the princess paused by the nail-studded oaken door, and
said:

"There will come a day when things done in secret will be declared upon
the housetops, then (if not before) you will know the secret of the gold
bonbonnière. Say, 'Forgiven, Nadine.'"

And I said it with my hand in hers.

How glad I was afterwards that I had done so.


II.

THE PASSING OF NADINE.


Throughout the great house of Whichello Towers there was a hush.
Soft-footed servants went to and fro, all the guests save Estella and I
went away with many condolences. The Princess Nadine was passing away
in the room overlooking the pine woods. She had been thrown from her
horse whilst hunting with the Whichello hounds, and the end was not far
off.

I was sitting in the library with a great sadness in my heart, when the
door opened, and Canon Manningtree, the white-haired rector of
Whichello, came into the room.

"Miss Dene," he said gravely, "in the absence of a priest of the Greek
Church, I have ministered to Princess Milontine. She is going to meet a
merciful Saviour who knows her temptations, and the singular
circumstances in which she has been placed. She desires to see you. Do
not excite her. Speak to her of the infinite love of God. Will you
please go to her _now_."

Weeping, I went.

Sitting beside the sufferer was Maura, who rose when I came in, and left
us two alone, save for that unseen Angel who calls us to the presence of
our God.

The princess looked at me with her beautiful wistful eyes, as she had
looked when she gave me the amber roses in the narrow street.

"Gloria, little sister, I am going to tell _how_ Irene died."

"No, no, not if it distresses you."

"I would rather tell you. Listen! I have not much time to speak. As you
know, we are of a noble Russian family, and Irene and I were the only
children. I was ten years older than Irene, and was educated in France;
she came to England, and was your schoolmate!

"I was passionately fond of the child I had seen an infant lying in her
pink-lined cot, and when she came out and married Prince Alex Laskine, I
prayed that God's sunshine might light on my darling's head. Then, I
myself married, and travelled with my husband in all kinds of strange,
out-of-the-way places; in one of which he died, and I came back to St.
Petersburgh, a childless, lonely widow!

"But there was no Irene; her husband had been implicated in a plot, and
had been sent to O----, one of the most desolate places in Siberia, and
my sister had voluntarily accompanied him!

"When I heard this, I never rested until I too was en route to Siberia!
I wanted to take Irene in my arms and to console her as her dead mother
would have done. O---- was a fearful place, just a colony of dreary huts
by the sea. Behind were the wolf-infested forests; in the midst of it,
the frowning fortress prison! When I showed my ukase, and demanded to
see my relations, they simply showed me two graves. Irene and Alex
rested side by side, in the silent acre, and an exile told me _how_ they
had died! Alex had been knouted for refusing to play the part of Judas,
and had passed away in the fortress. Irene was found dead inside their
small wooden hut, kneeling beside her bed. Her heart had broken! My
little Snow Flower had been crushed under the iron heel of despotism.

"He by whose mandate this iniquity was done was General Loris Trakoff,
the governor of the province! I was turned to stone by Irene's grave,
and afterwards became a partisan of the Nihilists.

"Night and day I pondered upon how I could be revenged upon Trakoff, and
at last Fate seemed to favour me.

"The general (so it was reported) was coming to visit a former friend of
his. I made up my mind to be there also, and to shoot him, if
opportunity served.

"So, two members of our society, a young mechanic and his wife, rented a
house in Cherry-Tree Avenue, to which I came, and whilst waiting for my
revenge I became acquainted with you."

She paused, whispered, "The restorative," and I gave her the medicine.

The sweet, faint voice spoke again.

"I knew that you were Irene's friend because I saw your name upon the
letter that I picked up, and I loved you, Gloria, aye, and was sorry for
you."

I laid my cheek next hers.

"Dear, I knew it, and was fond of you."

"Fond of the Nihilist Princess, my little English Gloria! 'Tis a strange
world!

"After all, the general did not come, and then we all left. I bided my
time. No outsider knew me for a _Révolutionnaire_, so I mixed in society
as before, and accepted the invitation to Whichello, on purpose to meet
him here.

"The bonbonnière was filled with poisoned caramels, prepared by a
Nihilist chemist, and it was my intention to destroy myself after I had
destroyed my enemy. I gave him one chance; I asked him if he repented of
anything, and he answered 'No.'

"At the great crisis your little hand, as a hand from another world--as
Irene's hand might have done--came between us.

"Your coming saved him. I could not let you share his fate."

"Oh, thank God!" I said. "Nadine, tell me--tell God, that you are sorry,
that you repent your dreadful purpose."

"I do, I do," she whispered. "Lying here I see all the sins, the errors,
the mistakes. I do not despair of God's mercy though I am myself
deserving of His wrath. Irene used to tell me that when she fell asleep,
in the new world of school life, it was in your arms. Put them round me,
Gloria, and let me fall asleep."

I placed my arm gently, very gently, under her head, and then sat very
still.

I heard the big clock in the clock-tower slowly and distinctly strike
the hour of twelve, I saw the pale lips move and heard them murmur:
"Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere mei."

But save for this, all was silence! And in the silence Princess Nadine
slept.



MY YEAR AT SCHOOL.

BY MARGARET WATSON.


I was rather old to start out as a school-girl, for I was seventeen, and
had never been to school before.

We lived in the heart of the country, and my education had been rather
casual--broken into now for a day's work, and now for a day's play, now
for visitors staying in the house, now for a visit to friends or
relations; as is the way when you are one of a large family, and do your
lessons at home--especially if your tastes lie rather in the line of
doing than thinking.

I did not love books. I loved gardening and riding the pony, and making
cakes, and minding the baby. My sisters were much cleverer than I, and I
had never believed it possible that I could excel in anything requiring
study, so I satisfied myself with being rather clever with my hands.

However, I didn't really mind work of any kind, and I worked at my
lessons when I _was_ at them, though I was always ready enough to throw
them aside for anything else that might turn up. When my mother said I
must go away to a good school for a year I was quite willing. I always
loved a change.

The school chosen was a London High School, and I was to board with some
people we knew. They had no connection with the school, so I was thrown
pretty much on my own resources, and had to find my way about for
myself.

I had to go up first for the entrance exam., and I shall never forget my
feelings that day. The headmistress had a sharp, quick manner, and I
thought she set me down as very stupid for my age. I was put in a room
with a lot of girls, mostly younger than myself, and given a set of
exam. papers to do. The way the questions were put was new to me, I was
nervous and worried, but I worked on doggedly with the courage of
despair, certain that I was showing appalling ignorance for a girl of
seventeen, and that I should be placed in a form with the babies.

Two very pretty girls were working beside me. They had curly black hair,
and bright complexions, and lovely dark eyes, and there was a fair girl,
who wrote diligently all the time, and seemed in no difficulty. When it
was over I asked her how she had got on, and she said she had found it
quite easy, and answered most of the questions. We compared notes, and I
saw that if she was right I must be wrong, and as she was quite sure she
was right I went home very despondent indeed, but determined to work my
way up from the bottom if need be.

Next morning I hardened my heart for what was to befall me, and started
for school. I had to go by omnibus, and found one that ran just at the
right time.

I was met at the school entrance by a tall, thin, small-featured lady,
who wore glasses, and spoke in a sharp, clear voice, but quite kindly,
telling me that I was in the Fifth Form, and my desk was that nearest
the door.

There was a good deal of crush and confusion as there were a lot of new
girls, and I sat at my desk and wondered whether the Fifth Form was the
highest or the lowest. I could hardly believe I was in the highest form,
but the other girls sitting at the desks looked as old as myself. The
two pretty dark girls were there, but I saw no sign of the fair girl who
had worked so easily.

I sat and watched for her, and presently she came in, but she was moved
on to the form behind. She was in the Fourth Form, and I heard her
name--Mabel Smith.

I had a good report at the end of the first term, and went home
happy--very happy to get home again, for I had never been so long away
before, and I found my little brothers grown out of knowledge. But the
Christmas holidays were soon over, and I went back in a cold, snowy
week; and London snow is a miserable spectacle, not like the lovely pure
white covering which hides up all dirt and ugliness in the country.

However, I knew my way about by this time, and found my old familiar bus
waiting for me, and the conductor greeted me with great friendliness. He
was a most kind man, and always waited for me as long as he could.

This term we had a new mistress for mathematics, and I didn't like her a
bit.

I was always very slow and stupid at mathematics, and the new mistress
was so quick, she worked away like lightning, and I _could_ not follow
her. She would rush through a proposition in Euclid, proving that some
figure was, or was not equal to some other figure, and leave me stranded
vainly trying to understand the first proof when she was at the last,
and I _couldn't_ care, anyhow, whether one line could be proved equal to
another or not, I felt it would be much simpler to measure it and have
done with it. It was the same in arithmetic; she took us through
innumerable step-fractions with innumerable steps, just as fast as she
could put the figures down, and all I could do was to stare stupidly at
the blackboard and hope that I might be able to worry some sense out of
it all at home; and she gave us so much home-work that I had to toil
till after ten at night, and then had to leave my sums half done, or
neglect my other work altogether.

I was slow and stupid, I knew, but the others all suffered too, though
not so much, and presently complaints were made by all the other
mistresses that their work was not done, and all the girls had the same
reason to give, the arithmetic took so long.

So Miss Vinton made out a time-table for our prep., and said we were to
leave off when the time was up, whether we'd finished or not. It was a
great relief, my hair was turning grey with the work and worry! But I
did not get on at all with mathematics, and in the end of term exam. I
came out very badly in that and in French.

As most of us had done badly in those subjects our poor madame and the
mathematical mistress did not come back next term.

Miss Vinton gave us mathematics herself, and a splendid teacher she was,
letting some daylight even into my thick head, which was not constructed
for that kind of work, and her sister gave us French, and we really
began to make progress. Some of the girls had done well before, those
who sat near madame and talked to her, but most of us had not learnt
much from her.

Altogether it was with regret that I saw the end of my school-year
drawing near; and I was very anxious to do well in the final exams.

They were to be rather important, as we were to have a university
examiner, and there were two prizes offered by people interested in the
school, one for the best literature paper, and one for the best history.
I _did_ want a prize to take home.

There was great excitement in the school, and we all meant to try our
best. The Fourth and Fifth Forms were to have the same papers, so as to
give the Fourth Form girls a chance for the prize, and Mabel Smith said
she was determined to win that offered for literature.

The exam. week began. Geology, arithmetic, Latin, French, German. We
worked through them all conscientiously but without much enthusiasm.
Then came the literature, you could hear the girls hold their breaths as
the papers were given to them.

I read the questions down the first time, and my head spun round so that
I could not understand one.

"This won't do," I said to myself, and set my teeth and clung to my desk
till I steadied down. Then I read them through again.

I found one question I could answer right away, and by the time I had
done that my brain was clear, and I knew the answers to every one.

Alice Thompson was sitting next me, she was one of the pretty dark
girls, and very idle.

"What's the date of Paradise Lost?" she whispered.

I didn't know what to do. I wouldn't speak, and of course I knew that it
was very mean of her to ask, but I was sure of the date, and I thought
it would be mean of me not to tell her. Just then Miss Vinton walked up
the room and glanced round at us.

Alice bent over her work, writing diligently. Miss Vinton went down the
room again, and Alice edged up to me, questioning me with her pretty
dark eyes.

I hesitated, then I pushed the sheet I had just finished close to the
edge of my desk so that she could read the date, which she did quickly
enough. After that she looked over my papers freely whenever Miss Vinton
wasn't looking.

I was rather worried about it, but I didn't think she could win the
prize, for I knew she hadn't worked at the subject at all, and if she
didn't I thought it couldn't matter much to any one.

I had answered all the questions a good while before the time was up, I
thought we had been allowed too long, and was surprised to see Mabel
Smith and one or two more scribbling away for dear life till the last
minute. However, the time was up at last, and we all gave in our papers.

"How did you get on, Margaret?" asked Miss Vinton, smiling kindly at me.

"I think I answered all the questions right," I replied.

"That's good," she said.

The history paper was given us next day, and it filled me with despair.
The questions were so put that short answers were no use, and I was
afraid to trust myself to write down my own ideas. However, after a bit
the ideas began to come, and I quite enjoyed scribbling them down.

Alice had been moved to another desk, so I was left in peace, for
Joyce, who was a friend of mine, was next to me, working away quietly.

I was getting on swimmingly, when all at once the bell rang, and I had
only answered three quarters of the questions.

I _was_ vexed, for I could see one or two more I could have done.
However, there was no help for it. The papers must be given up.

"I wish I had had a little more time," I said to Miss Vinton, as I gave
in my work.

"You had as much as the rest," she answered, rather sharply, and I went
away feeling sad and snubbed.

The exams. were over, and we were to know the result next day.

I don't think any of us wanted that extra half hour in bed in the
morning, which generally seemed so desirable; and we were all waiting in
the cloak-room--a chattering throng, for discipline was relaxed on this
occasion. When the school-bell rang, and we hurried in to take our
places, Miss Vinton made us a speech, saying that the general results of
the examinations had been very satisfactory. Our term's work had been on
the whole good.

We could hardly listen to these general remarks when we were longing for
particulars. At last they came:

Alice Thompson was awarded the literature prize. Her work was so very
accurate, and her paper so well written.

There was a silence of astonishment.

Alice turned scarlet. I felt horrified to think what mischief I had done
by being so weak-minded as to let her copy my work. Mabel Smith was
white. But Miss Vinton went on calmly:

"Mabel Smith comes next. Her paper was exceptionally well written, but
there were a few blunders which placed it below Alice's."

Then came Nelly, Joyce, and the rest of the Fifth Form, and one or two
of the Fourth--and I began to get over the shock of Alice's success and
to wonder what had happened to me. At last my name came with just half
marks.

My cheeks were burning. I was dreadfully disappointed and ashamed. Miss
Vinton saw what I was feeling and stopped to explain that the examiner
had not wanted mere bald answers of dates and names, but well-written
essays, showing thought and intelligence. This was how I had failed,
while Alice, cribbing my facts, had worked them out well, and come out
first. I felt very sore about it, and almost forgot the injustice done
to Mabel Smith.

There was still the history prize, and a hush of excited expectation
fell on us when Miss Vinton began again:

"The history prize has been awarded to Nelly Gascoyne for a very good
paper indeed. Margaret and Joyce have been bracketed second. Their
papers were excellent, and only just behind Nelly's in merit."

I gasped with surprise. I had left so many questions unanswered that I
had had no hope of distinction in history.

This was some consolation for my former disgrace--and then my mind went
back to the question of what was to be done about the literature prize.

As soon as the business of the morning was concluded Mabel Smith touched
my arm. She was still quite white, and her eyes were blazing.

"I must speak to you," she said.

"Come to the cloak-room," I answered, "we can get our books after."

"You _know_ Alice Thompson cheated," she said, the moment we were alone.
"I sat just behind, and I saw you push your papers over to her, and she
leant over, and copied whatever she wanted."

"I never dreamt she'd get the prize," I answered, "I only wanted to help
her out of a hole."

"Well, she _did_ get it--and it's my prize, and what are you going to do
about it?"

"I don't know, I'm sure. Of course I oughtn't to have let her copy--but
I thought it wouldn't hurt any one."

"You'll have to tell Miss Vinton now. It's not fair I should be cheated
out of the prize I've honestly won, and I'd worked so hard for it too.
I can't think how I came to make those mistakes."

"I wish to peace you hadn't!"

"But, anyhow, Alice could never have got it if she hadn't cheated, and
you must tell Miss Vinton."

"Oh! that's too much," I cried. "It's for Alice to tell Miss Vinton, I
can't. I'm willing to tell Alice she must."

"And if she won't?"

"Then I don't quite see what's to be done."

"You'll let her keep my prize?"

"Well, you can tell Miss Vinton if you like."

"It's you that ought to tell her. It was all your fault, you'd no right
to help Alice to cheat."

"I know that's true. But it makes it all the more impossible for me to
tell on her."

Just then Alice came in:

"Oh, Margaret!" she cried.

Then she saw Mabel and stopped.

"Are you going to tell Miss Vinton you cheated?" said Mabel, going up to
her with flaming eyes.

"_Margaret_, did you tell?" said Alice.

"I saw you!" said Mabel, "I sat just behind and saw you! You're not
going to try to keep my prize, are you?"

"No, of course not," said Alice, "I never thought of getting the prize.
I only wanted to write a decent paper and not have Miss Vinton pitching
into me as usual. You're welcome to the prize, if that will do."

Mabel said nothing.

"I'm afraid that won't quite do," I said. "It would be too difficult for
Mabel to explain at home without telling on you. You'd much better tell
on yourself."

"I can't," said Alice, "I'm as sorry as I can be, now, that I did
it--but I can't face Miss Vinton."

She looked ready to cry.

"Well, I shall have to confess too," I said. "It was partly my fault.
Let us go together."

"I daren't," said Alice.

But I could see she was yielding.

"Come along," I said, taking her arm. "It's the only way out. You know
you won't keep Mabel's prize, and it's as bad to keep her honour and
glory. This is the only way out. Let's get it over."

She came then, but reluctantly.

Fortunately we found Miss Vinton alone in her room, and between us we
managed to stammer out our confession.

Miss Vinton, I think, was not surprised. She had feared there was
something not quite straight. But she was extremely severe with us both,
as much with me as with Alice, and as it was to be my last interview
with her I was heart-broken.

However, I lingered a moment after Alice, and then turned back and said:

"Please forgive me, you can't think how sorry I am."

"Remember, Margaret," she replied, "that it is not enough to be
honourable in your own conduct--you must as far as possible discourage
anything dishonourable in other people. I know you would not cheat
yourself, but if it is wrong to cheat, it is equally wrong to help some
one else to cheat--don't you see? Will you remember this in future--in
big things as well as in small? You must not only do right yourself.
Your influence must be on the right side too. Certainly, I forgive you.
You've been a good girl all this year, and I'm sorry to lose you."

So I went away comforted.

And I came home with never a prize to show. But I had what was better. I
had acquired a real love of study which I have never lost. I don't know
what became of Alice Thompson, I only hope that she never had to earn
her living by teaching. Nelly Gascoyne went home to a jolly family of
brothers and sisters and gave herself up to the pleasures and duties of
home. Joyce became assistant mistress in a school, and Mabel followed up
her successes at school by winning a scholarship at Cambridge a year
later.

And I--well, I've never come in first anywhere, but I'm fairly contented
with a second place.



THE SILVER STAR.

BY NELLIE HOLDERNESS.


Maysie Grey had set her heart on the Drawing Society's Silver Star. She
kept her ambition to herself as a thing too audacious to be put into
words. That she possessed talent, the school fully recognised. She was
only thirteen, and by dint of steady perseverance was making almost
daily progress. Her painting lessons were a source of unmixed pleasure
to her, for hers was a nature that never yielded to discouragement, and
never magnified difficulties.

"You must aim at the Bronze Star this year," her science mistress had
said to her, while helping her to fix the glass slides she was to paint
from, under the microscope, "and next year you must go on to the
Silver----"

"Look, how beautiful the colours are!" Maysie exclaimed in delight. The
delicate, varying tints fascinated her. She set to work with enthusiasm,
never having done anything of the kind before. "'Mycetozoa,' do you call
them?" she asked.

"Yes. Be sure you spell it rightly."

The next day, when the first of her three sheets was finished, Miss
Elton came in to examine it. Though she said little, she was evidently
more than satisfied. It was nearly tea-time, and Maysie spent the few
minutes before preparation was over in tearing up some old drawings.
After breakfast, on the following morning, before the bell rang for
class, she went over to Ruth Allen's desk to ask her how to spell
"Mycetozoa." Ruth was her particular chum, and the best English scholar
in the form.

"I've got something to show you, Maysie," she said, when she had
furnished the desired information. She brought out a piece of paper as
she spoke, and passed it on to her friend behind the cover of her open
desk. It was a fragment of one of Maysie's zoological drawing-sheets,
evidently picked up out of the waste-paper basket--a wasp with wings
outspread, showing the three divisions of an insect's body. The head was
roughly altered so as to form a caricature of a human face, and above
was printed, in letters that might have done credit to Maysie herself:
"Miss E. in a tantrum," and below: "How doth the little waxy wasp
rejoice to snap and snarl!"

Maysie did not share Ruth's unreasonable animosity towards Miss Elton,
but she could not repress a smile at this specimen of school-girl wit.
Just then the bell rang, and she went back to her own desk, while Ruth,
letting the lid of hers slip down, was so startled by the noise it made
in the sudden silence that she did not see a piece of paper flutter out
on to the ground, and gently glide underneath the platform of the
mistress's desk, which was just in front of her.

That morning Maysie began her second sheet, and joined the others in the
garden after dinner. Molly Brooks, another of her friends, came eagerly
running up to her.

"Why didn't you come to botany?" she asked.

"I've been doing my exhibition work."

"Oh, of course! I suppose it's nearly finished?"

"About half. It hasn't to be sent off till next week, so there's plenty
of time."

At that moment Ruth Allen linked her arm in Maysie's.

"I'm in my third row," she began casually.

"What, already?" asked Maysie.

"Yes, haven't you heard?" Molly chimed in.

"Oh, it's Miss Elton again!" went on Ruth. "We never can hit it off. You
weren't at botany class this morning."

"No, what happened?"

Ruth shrugged her shoulders. Molly looked expressively at Maysie. Ruth
seldom got through a botany class without an explosion.

"I hate botany," said Ruth recklessly, "and I hate Miss Elton. I'm
supposed to be in silence now, but as Miss Bennet came in and told us
all to go out, I thought I'd better not risk another disobedience mark."

Miss Elton, who had been stooping down over some flower-beds, in search
of museum treasures, came up at this point. Her face was grave and
white, and her manner very stern and quiet.

"What are you doing out here, Ruth?" she demanded.

"Miss Bennet sent us all out; she said it was such a lovely day,"
answered Ruth carelessly.

"Then you can go and explain to Miss Bennet why I told you to remain in
this afternoon."

Ruth looked at Miss Elton, and then looked away; she slowly withdrew her
arm from Maysie's, and walked off without a word. At the door she came
face to face with Miss Bennet, the headmistress.

"Where are you going to, Ruth?" asked the latter.

"Miss Elton sent me in."

"Why?" There was grave rebuke in Miss Bennet's voice.

"Because I'm in silence."

"I do not understand why you were out at all."

Ruth made no attempt to defend herself.

"You'd better come to my room," continued Miss Bennet. "There is
something here that needs explaining.... Now, what were you in silence
for?" she continued, seating herself in her chair by the fire.

"I got sent out of botany class."

"And how many times have you been sent out of botany class?"

Ruth did not answer.

"Well, it has come to this, Ruth," Miss Bennet went on gravely, "that a
girl of your age--you are fourteen now, I believe--can no longer be
allowed to go on setting an example of insolence and disobedience to the
younger girls in the school. Now, remember, this is the last time. Let
me have no more complaints about you, or it will be my unpleasant duty
to write to your mother, and tell her that you cannot remain here."

There was a pause. The colour had left Ruth's face, and she was staring
moodily into the fire.

"You will apologise to Miss Elton," added Miss Bennet, rising, "and you
will remain in silence at meals for the rest of the week. And try to
make an effort over your botany. Your other work is good: you were top
last week. Now, promise me that you will make an effort."

Ruth, moved to penitence at the thought of her mother, promised to do
her best. That afternoon she apologised to Miss Elton, and made a
resolution to keep out of rows for the rest of the term. Maysie and she
walked about in the garden as usual, and talked things over. Maysie
looked grave when Ruth told her what Miss Bennet had said about sending
her away.

"Oh, Ruth!" she said, "you really must be careful! Why, if you got
expelled, it would be almost as bad for me as if I were expelled myself.
Miss Elton's awfully nice, if you only knew. I had such a lovely talk
with her on Sunday, all about home, and drawing. And then she's so jolly
at games, and she's never cross when you don't cheek her. And think how
horrid it must be for her whenever she comes to botany class, always
knowing that you're going to be dense! And you do do it on purpose
sometimes, dear, you know you do."

Ruth forced a laugh.

"Oh, I'm going to be awfully good," she said. "You'll see!"

It was Saturday the next day, and Maysie was just settling down to her
drawing in the music-room, when Miss Elton appeared. Maysie looked up
and smiled at her. It was no unusual thing for her science-mistress to
come in and remark on her progress. But on this occasion no answering
smile greeted her. Maysie was puzzled. Her inquiring grey eyes fell
before Miss Elton's; she began to search her conscience. What had she
done?

"I think it is a pity, Maysie," began Miss Elton, "that you put your
talents to such an improfitable use."

As she spoke she laid before Maysie the paper that Ruth had exhibited to
her in such triumph the day before. Maysie grew scarlet, and remained
quite speechless. Her name up in the corner, the neat, even printing, so
like her own, the altered diagram that Miss Elton had seen in its
original form--they stared her in the face, condemning her beyond hope
of appeal. She raised her head proudly, and tossed back the thick curly
hair that hung over her shoulder.

"Where did it come from?" she asked.

"I picked it up from under the edge of my platform, but that is of no
concern."

"But, Miss Elton----" stammered Maysie, growing suddenly confused.

"You have no excuse," put in Miss Elton, and her voice was all the
harder because of the disappointment that she felt. "This is a piece of
your paper, is it not?"

Maysie admitted that it was.

"And your diagram?"

"Yes; at least----"

"Is it, or is it not?"

Maysie's voice was very low.

"Yes, it is," she said.

Silence ensued, a brief, awkward silence. It was at this moment that
Maysie made up her mind. She would not clear herself at the expense of
her chum! Ruth should not be expelled through her!

Miss Elton believed _her_ guilty; she would not undeceive her.

Miss Elton waited with her eyes on Maysie's paintings.

They were done as no other girl in the school would have done them, but
the thought afforded her no satisfaction, though she had always
prophesied great things of Maysie. Then she glanced at the child's
downcast face.

"I am sorry about this, Maysie," she said, with the faintest suspicion
of reproach in her voice, "I thought we were better friends."

A lump came into Maysie's throat, and the tears into her eyes. She
looked at the microscope, at the tiny glass slides, at her unfinished
sheet; but she had nothing to say.

"Of course," continued Miss Elton, "I shall have to show it to Miss
Bennet. This comes, no doubt, of your friendship with Ruth. I have
always said that she would do you no good."

Maysie listened with a swelling heart. Supposing Ruth should be sent
for, and hear the whole story? Miss Elton was at the door; she ran up to
her in desperation.

"Miss Elton," she faltered, "don't say anything to the girls, will you?"

Miss Elton made no promise. The petition made her think no better of
Maysie.

The Fourth Form girls soon discovered that Maysie was in trouble, but no
one could get anything out of her. Ruth was forbidden to join her in
recreation, but on Sunday evening she managed to get a few minutes' talk
with her.

"Do tell me what the row's about, Maysie," she said.

"Oh, nothing much," said Maysie. "Do let's talk about something else."

"But I always thought you liked Miss Elton?"

"So I do. Can't you get into a row with a mistress you like?"

"Well, I'd apologise, if I were you. She was very nice to me."

"I can't, so it's no good." And Maysie sat silent, confronting this new
difficulty with a sinking heart. For how could she apologise, she asked
herself, for what she had never done?

"Well, I think you might tell me," Ruth went on. "_I_ told you about my
row; and what's the good of being chums if we can't keep each other's
secrets?"

But Maysie only sighed impatiently, and took up her library book.

"I wish you'd hurry up and finish those paintings of yours, and come
back properly to class," went on Ruth. "Aren't they nearly done?"

Maysie grew white, and turned away her face.

"I'm not going to try this year," she said.

"Why, I thought----" began Ruth. "Oh, I see! What a shame!"

Maysie choked down a sob. After a pause she said:

"Perhaps I shall have more chance of a Star next year."

"You'd have got one this!" said Ruth indignantly. "How mean to punish
you like that! And it's the only thing you care about!"

Maysie smiled. "Oh, never mind, dear," she said. "Everything seems mean
to us. You don't understand."

"But if you apologised it would be all right?"

"I daresay it might, but I don't think so. Besides, they've got to be
sent in by Wednesday, and I should hardly have time to do another
sheet."

Things went on like this until Monday evening. Though there was only one
day left, Maysie made no attempt to apologise. Miss Elton gave her every
opportunity, for she, too, hoped that Miss Bennet might thus be induced
to allow Maysie to finish her exhibition work, even at the last moment.

Maysie went to bed early that night. Her head had been aching all day,
and by the time tea was over she could hardly hold it up. Ruth was
greatly concerned about her, and, as a last resource, determined to
speak to Miss Bennet.

Maysie soon got into bed, and, being alone in the dormitory, hid her
face under the bed-clothes and sobbed. She was terribly homesick, poor
child, and now, for the first time, she began to doubt whether she had
done right after all; whether it would not have been wiser to have taken
Miss Bennet into her confidence, and trusted to her to set things right.
And then, there was that Silver Star! And a year was such a long time to
have to wait. But, thinking of Ruth, she grew ashamed of herself, and
dried her tears, and tried to go to sleep, though it was still quite
light out of doors.

Ruth, meanwhile, was sitting on the floor in front of Miss Bennet's
fire.

"It's about Maysie, Miss Bennet," she was saying. "I don't understand
what she has done, but I'm sure there must be some reason for her not
apologising."

Miss Bennet made no remark.

"She's so fond of Miss Elton, too. I don't see how she could have meant
to be rude to her."

"I'm afraid there is not much doubt about that," was the answer.

"It seems to me," went on Ruth nervously, "that there's some mystery
about it. Maysie won't tell me anything."

"Maysie has no reason to be proud of herself," replied Miss Bennet
coldly.

"It seems so horrid her not going in for the exhibition, and she's so
good at painting."

"There are various ways of making use of one's talents," said Miss
Bennet, rising. "Now this----"

Ruth jumped to her feet, and stood gazing. There, on Miss Bennet's
writing-table, lay the identical scrap of paper that she had shown to
Maysie the Friday before. "Miss E. in a tantrum!" There, too, was
Maysie's name in the corner. In a moment everything was clear.

"That!" she exclaimed. "Maysie didn't do that!"

Miss Bennet looked at her doubtfully.

"I did it!" she went on. "Oh, if I'd only known! Why didn't some one
tell me about it?"

"My dear child," began Miss Bennet.

"Yes, I did it!" repeated Ruth passionately. "It's Maysie's drawing, but
I altered it, I made up the words. Poor little Maysie! And she was so
keen on trying for the exhibition! It's so horribly unfair, when I did
it all the time!" She broke off with a sob, hardly knowing what she was
saying.

"But why----"

"I didn't know, and of course she wouldn't sneak about me--catch Maysie
sneaking! I told her I should be expelled if I got into another row."

Miss Bennet tried to calm her.

"Come, dear child," she said gravely; "if Maysie has been punished for
your fault, we must do our best to set things right at once. Tell me how
it happened."

Ruth explained as well as she could.

"And now Maysie's gone to bed," she added regretfully.

"Then I will go up to her. You can go back to your class-room."

Miss Bennet found Maysie asleep, with flushed cheeks, and eyelashes
still wet with tears. She stooped down, and kissed her gently. Maysie
opened her eyes with a sigh, and then sat up in bed. It had seemed
almost as if her mother were bending over her. "I am going to scold you,
Maysie," said Miss Bennet, but her smile belied her words.

Maysie smiled faintly in answer.

"Why have you allowed us to do you an injustice?"

The child was overwrought, and a sudden dread seized hold of her.

"Why--what do you mean, Miss Bennet?" she faltered.

"Ruth has explained everything to me. It is a great pity this mistake
should have been made----"

Maysie interrupted her.

"It was before she got sent out of class, Miss Bennet," she said. "Oh!
don't be angry with her! Don't send her away, will you?"

In her earnestness she laid her hand on Miss Bennet's arm. Miss Bennet
drew her to her, and kissed her again.

"Poor child!" she said. "So that's what you've been worrying your little
head about. No, I won't send her away, Miss Elton tells me that she has
improved already, and I am sure she will forgive her when she knows
everything."

Maysie thanked her with tears in her eyes.

"And now, I have one other thing to say," Miss Bennet continued. "You
must go to sleep at once, and wake up quite fresh and bright to-morrow
morning, and you shall give up the whole day to your painting. What do
you say to that?"

"How lovely!" exclaimed Maysie. "I shall get it done after all! Thank
you very, very much, Miss Bennet. Oh, I am so happy!" And she put her
arms round Miss Bennet's neck, and gave her an enthusiastic hug.

Maysie worked hard at her "Mycetozoa" the next day, and finished her
third sheet with complete success. Some weeks afterwards, Miss Bennet
sent for her to her room.

"I am glad to be able to tell you, Maysie," she said, "that you have
gained the Drawing Society's Silver Star."

Maysie drew a long breath; her heart was too full for words. The
_Silver_ Star! Could it be true?

Ruth was one of the first to congratulate her.

"I always said you'd get it, dear," she remarked as they walked round
the garden together. "And I'm just as glad as you are about it. I
haven't forgotten that it was through me you nearly lost the chance!"

Maysie returned the pressure of Ruth's hand without answering. Was not
the Silver Star the more to be prized for its association in thought
with those hours of lonely perplexity that she had gone through for the
sake of her friend?



UNCLE TONE.

BY KATE GODKIN.


"Mother darling! Is Uncle Tone really coming to see us at last? I heard
you tell father something about it," I said to my mother as she sat by
my couch, to which I had been tied for some weeks in consequence of a
cycling accident.

I had broken my leg, but had now so far recovered as to be able to move
cautiously with a stick. It was the first illness that I could remember,
and I was an only child, much loved, and I suppose much spoiled by the
most indulgent of fathers and mothers. I therefore made the most of my
opportunities and called freely on their resources for entertainment.

"Yes, love, I am happy to say he is. He has not been here now since you
were quite a little girl, eight years ago. You were just eight."

"Mother," I continued coaxingly, for I loved a story, "why are you so
fond of him, he is only your step-brother?"

"Step-brother!" she exclaimed. "He has been more than a brother to me.
He has been a father, far far more," she added sadly, "than my own
father was. He is, you know, nearly twenty years older than I."

"Will you tell me something about it?" I asked softly.

It was twilight in July, and I lay at the open French window which led
from the drawing-room to the lawn, and from which we had a view across
the park, far out over the country, bounded by the twinkling lights of
Southampton in the distance, for our house was situated on an elevation
in one of the loveliest spots in the New Forest. Dinner was over and
father was in the library clearing off some pressing work, as he had to
leave home for a day or two. It seemed to me the very time for
reminiscences.

"I think I will," said my mother slowly and thoughtfully.

She was a small, graceful woman, of about forty then, whose soft, dark
hair was just beginning to be touched with grey, but her face was as
fresh and dainty-looking as a girl's; a strong, sweet face that I loved
to look at, and that now, that she is no longer with me, I love to
remember.

"You ought to know what he did for your mother, and how much you owe him
indirectly. I should like him, too, to feel that he has his reward in
you."

My curiosity was excited, for I had never heard my mother speak like
that before, and so I settled myself to listen, and to enjoy what she
had to say.

"My childhood was a very wretched one, Cora," she began. "For that
reason I have spoken little of it to you, but endeavoured, assisted by
your father, to make yours the very opposite to it as far as lay in my
power, and that I could do so is due, I may say wholly, to your Uncle
Tone, who taught me to be happy myself, and to endeavour to make others
so."

I slipped my hand into my dear mother's; she was the best, most loving,
and wisest mother that ever lived.

"My mother died when I was born," she continued, "and my father took his
loss so to heart that he shut himself off from all society, grew silent
and morose, and," she added after some hesitation, "became in time a
drunkard."

She brought these words out with such an effort, such difficulty, that
the tears came to my eyes, and I whispered, "Don't go on, mother
darling, if it hurts you." She continued, however, without appearing to
notice my interruption.

"I ran wild till I was twelve or thirteen years of age, I had no society
but my father's and the servants', and I got no regular education. He
would not send me to school, but the vicar's daughter came over for an
hour or two every day to teach me what I could be induced to learn,
which was little enough. I was hot-tempered, headstrong, self-willed,
accustomed to fight for what I wanted, getting nothing by any other
means, and doing without what I could not get in that way. No softening,
no refining influence came into my life. My one pleasure even then was
music. I had a passion for it. Miss Vincent, the vicar's daughter,
taught me to play the piano, and I used to spend hours in the deserted
drawing-room, playing what I knew, and picking out tunes by myself,
while my father was shut up in his study. We had no near relation, no
one who cared enough to take pity on an unruly, troublesome, little
girl, with a drunken father. When I was between twelve and thirteen he
died, and a godmother who lived in Scotland took charge of me, and sent
me to a boarding-school, at which I spent the next four years. Schools
were not then what they are now, particularly in Scotland, and between
the time spent there and the holidays with Miss Clark, who was a stern,
old maid and a confirmed invalid, my life was very dreary; I was
becoming harder, and harder. I did not know in fact that I had any
feelings; they were not cultivated amongst the people who had to do with
me. She, also, died before I was seventeen, and then something happened
which was to change my whole life. My step-brother, whom I had never
seen, wrote to Miss McDougall, with whom I was at school, saying that my
home would, henceforth, be with him. Your Uncle Tone was my father's son
by his first marriage, and when his father married my mother, Tone went
to live with his maternal grandfather, who, on his death, left him the
beautiful place in Derbyshire to which I was to go. He lived there with
an old aunt. This news affected me very little; I had never had a happy
home, a real home; I did not know what that was, but I presumed I should
go somewhere on leaving school.

"My love of music had, in the meantime, increased. I had had a very good
master, a real musician, and I had worked hard for him. To me it was a
delight, but I never thought nor cared that it could give pleasure to
any one else. I used to shut myself up for hours in the holidays, out of
hearing of my godmother, who seldom left her room, and play, and play,
till my arms ached.

"I remember well the day he came for me. I was ready, waiting, when the
maid brought me the message that Sir Tone Wolsten was in the
drawing-room. He was standing on the hearth-rug talking to Miss
McDougall, and looked so tall to me. He is over six feet. I can see him
now as he stood there, erect, broad-shouldered, with bright chestnut
hair, clear, keen, dark blue eyes, and bronzed skin, a strong, kind,
fearless face. He looked a thorough man, one to be trusted. He greeted
me very kindly as his little sister, and took me home with him. Goldmead
Park was the loveliest place I had ever seen. His Aunt Evangeline, whom
I also called 'aunt,' was a frail, querulous old lady, whom he treated
as his mother. He did not marry till after her death, five years later.
I was planted in entirely new surroundings, with everything pleasant
about me, everything that I could desire, or ought to have desired. Your
uncle was kindness itself. He taught me to ride and to drive, supplied
me with books, took the greatest interest in me; but the restrictions of
every well-ordered home which would have been nothing to a properly
trained girl were unendurable to me. I resisted from sheer perverseness
and dislike of control. I do not mean to say that I was always
ill-tempered; I was lively and merry enough, and your uncle used to
tease me, and jest with me, which I enjoyed very much, and responded to
willingly.

"Some weeks had passed like this, my step-brother being most kind and
indulgent. Frequently Aunt Evangeline had asked me to play to them in
the evening after dinner, but I had refused obstinately. I liked to play
to myself, but I had never been accustomed to do so before any one, and
it never entered my head that it could give them pleasure, or that I was
bound to do it out of politeness. At last she became more irritable and
frequently made sarcastic remarks about the young people of the present
day. This happened again one evening, and I answered sharply, not to say
rudely.

"The next morning I wandered through the woods belonging to the park,
gathering violets, and had sat down, hot and tired, under a lovely
chestnut, with my lap full of flowers which I was arranging and tying up
in bunches in order to carry them home more easily. I heard footsteps,
which I recognised by their briskness and firmness, and looking up I saw
my brother approach, walking, as usual, erect, with his head well thrown
back but with stern lines in his face which I had not seen there before.
I looked up smiling, expecting his usual kind greeting, but instead of
that he strode straight up and stopped in front of me.

"'I was just thinking of you, Elfie,' he said, looking down at me, 'I
have something to say to you which I can as well say here as any place
else. I don't know why you should be so unamiable and discourteous to my
aunt, as you are, and I cannot allow it to continue. I will say nothing
of your manner to me. You receive here nothing but kindness. My great
desire is to make you happy, but it does not seem as if I succeeded very
well. At any rate, Aunt Evangeline must not be made uncomfortable, and I
should be doing you a wrong if I allowed you to behave so rudely.'

"'Why can't she leave me alone?' I exclaimed angrily, 'I don't want to
play to her.'

"'One does not leave little girls alone,' he answered calmly and
sternly, 'and such behaviour from a young girl to an old lady is most
unbecoming. It must come to an end, and the sooner the better!
To-night,' he continued in a tone that made me look up at him, 'you will
apologise to my aunt and _offer_ to play.'

"'I shall do nothing of the sort!' I exclaimed, turning crimson.

"'Oh yes, you will,' he answered quietly, 'I am accustomed to be obeyed,
and I don't think my little sister will defy me.'

"And with that he strode away, leaving me in a perfect turmoil of angry
feelings. I jumped up, scattering my lapful of violets, and started to
walk in the opposite direction. At lunch we met, he ignored me
completely, but I did not care, I felt hard and defiant.

"After dinner, he conducted Aunt Evangeline to the drawing-room as
usual, and as soon as she was seated he turned and looked at me, and
waited. I made no move, though I felt my courage, which had never before
forsaken me, ebb very low. He waited a few moments, and then said in a
tone, which in spite of all my efforts I could not resist:

"'Now, Elfie!'

"I rose slowly, with his eyes fixed on me all the time, crossed the room
to Aunt Evangeline, and stopped in front of her. 'I am sorry, Aunt
Evangeline, that I have been so rude to you,' I said in a low, trembling
voice. 'If you wish, I will play to you now.'

"I felt as if it were not I myself, but some one outside me that was
moving and speaking for me. I wished not to do it, but I was compelled
by my brother's force of will, as much as if I had been hypnotised.

"'Do, dear, do!' the old lady exclaimed kindly and eagerly. 'I am so
fond of music, we both are, and we rarely have any one here who can
play.'

"I chose a piece in which I could give vent to the stormy feelings
raging within me. When I had finished I rose from the piano.

"'Thank you, dear,' she exclaimed. 'That was a treat!'

"'Such a treat,' remarked my brother, 'that it is hard to understand the
discourtesy and want of amiability that have deprived us of it so long.
Play something else, Elfie!' This was said quietly, but I was as
powerless to resist as if it were the sternest command.

"So I played three or four more pieces at his request, and then getting
up, took my work and sat down in silence at some distance from them,
while they 'talked music' In about half an hour he turned to me again
and asked me to play a particular piece which they had been discussing.
'Perhaps she is tired,' suggested Aunt Evangeline kindly.

"'It does not tire her to play for hours by herself,' was the quiet
rejoinder.

"I went to the piano in a mutinous, half desperate mood, thinking I
would go on till they were sick of it, so I played on and on. Presently
I forgot them, got lost in my music, and as usual my angry feelings died
away. I had no idea how long I had been playing when I became conscious
of a feeling of emotion I had never experienced before. I felt my heart
swell and my face flush, and with a sudden sob I burst into tears. I was
more startled than they were, for I had never, as far as I could
remember, shed a tear except with anger, and this was certainly not
anger. I started up and was about to leave the room hastily, when Tone
said in the same calm tone:

"Stay here, Elfie, you have no need to be ashamed of those tears.'

"At home I should have rushed from the room, banging the door after me:
I could give myself no account of my reason for going and sitting down
quietly instead; I did so, nevertheless, though I could not suppress my
sobs for some time. At last I became, outwardly at least, calm.

"Aunt Evangeline always retired to her room about nine o'clock, and at
first I did the same, but then my brother detained me for a game of
chess which he taught me to play, and to talk about some books that he
had given me to read, so that we usually sat together till ten o'clock.
That night, however, I had no mind to sit alone with him for an hour, so
I turned to say good-night as aunt was leaving the room. He held the
door open for her, bade her 'good-night,' and then closed it as
deliberately as if he had not seen my outstretched hand. He then turned
to me, and took it, cold and trembling as it was, in his own firm, warm
grasp, but with no intention of letting me go. Holding it, he looked
searchingly, but with a kind smile, into my face.

"'Is this revenge or punishment, Elfie?' he asked.

"'I don't know what you mean,' I exclaimed in confusion.

"'My game of chess?'

"'You won't want to play with me to-night, and I can't play either,' I
said, pressing my disengaged hand to my hot forehead. 'My stupidity
would try your patience more than ever.'

"'You must not say that,' he replied quietly, 'you are not stupid, and
as I have never felt the slightest shade of impatience, I cannot have
shown any. You play quite well enough to give me a very good game, but I
daresay you cannot to-night. One wants a cool, clear head for chess. Let
us talk instead.' So saying he led me to the chair aunt had just left,
put me in it, and drew his own chair nearer.

"'I don't want you to go to your room feeling lonely and upset,' he
said, 'I should like to see your peace of mind restored first. I should
like you to feel some satisfaction from the victory you have won over
your self-will to-night.'

"'The victory, such as it is, is yours!' I blurted out, looking away.

"'You say that,' he replied very gently, 'as if you thought it a poor
thing for a man to bully a young girl. Don't forget, Elfie, that I am
nearly old enough to be your father, that, in fact, I stand in that
position to you--I am your only relative and protector--that _I_ am
right and _you_ are wrong, and above all that it is for your own sake
that I do it. Poor child! you have had far too little home life and home
influence. I want you to be happy here, but the greatest source of
happiness lies in ourselves. What Milton says is very true, "The mind is
its own place, and in itself can make a hell of heaven, a heaven of
hell." You cannot be happy and make those around you happy, as long as
you are the slave of your will. A strong will is one of the most
valuable gifts we can have, but it must be our servant, not our master,
or it will prove a curse instead of a blessing. It must be under our
control, or it will force us to do things of which our good sense, good
feeling, and our consciences all disapprove. We must be able to use it
_against_ ourselves if need be. You are nearly grown up, Elfie, and
still such an undisciplined child! What you will not learn with me and
let me teach you in the next two or three years, the world will teach
you very harshly later. We none of us can go through life, least of all
a woman, doing what we like, knocking against every one as we go along.
We get very hard knocks back, and they hurt. We miss, too, the best
happiness that life can give. It contains none to equal that of making
other people happy. As we treat them, they treat us.

"'It is not in the least your fault, little one,' he added very kindly,
'you have had no chance of being different. You have, I am afraid,
received very little kindness, but help me to change all this. Don't
think for a moment that I want to subdue your will to mine, that I want
forced obedience to my wishes--that is the last thing I desire. I want
to place _your_ will under _your_ control. I forced you to do to-night
what I wanted, to make a beginning, to show you it was possible, to let
you feel the pleasure of being agreeable, to stir some gentler, softer
feelings in you. They came, much to your surprise, though not to mine.
We all have them, and it is not good to crush them.'

"While he was talking, a strange, subdued feeling came over me, such as
I had never known before. He spoke gently and impressively, in a deep,
soft tone peculiar to him when very much in earnest. I felt I wanted to
be what he wished me to be, to do what he wanted, and this sensation was
so new to me, that I could not at all understand it. I felt impelled to
tell him, but I was ashamed. I had never in my life been sorry for
anything I had done, still less acknowledged a fault. It was a new and
strange experience, I felt like a dumb animal as I raised my eyes
piteously to his.

"'What is it, little one? You want to say something, surely you are not
afraid?' he asked gently.

"'Forgive me, Tone,' I gasped, as two big tears rolled down my cheeks,
'I am sorry.'

"'I am glad to hear you say you are sorry,' he said, taking my hand,
'but between us there is no question of forgiveness. I have nothing to
pardon, I am not angry, I want to help you.'

"'I never felt like this before,' I muttered, 'I don't understand it,
but I will try to do what you want.'

"'You feel like this, Elfie, because you know that I am right, and that
I only want what is good for you. I want you to be happy, to open your
heart to the kindness we wish to show you, and to encourage feelings of
kindness in yourself towards other people. When you feel hard, and
cross, and disobliging, try to remember what I have been saying, and let
me help. Even if I have to appear stern sometimes, don't misunderstand
it.'

"He then talked about my mother, my home, told me something of my father
as _he_ had known him, until he actually succeeded in making me feel
peaceful and happy.

"From that day he never for a moment lost sight of the object he had in
view. He had me with him as much as possible, for long walks, rides and
drives. With infinite patience but unvarying firmness, he helped me
along, recognising every effort I made, appreciating my difficulties,
never putting an unnecessary restriction on me. So he moulded and formed
my character, lavishing kindness and affection on me in which, I must
say, Aunt Evangeline was not far behind, awakening all that was best and
noblest in my nature, never allowing simple submission of my will to
his.

"On my wedding-day, as we were bidding each other 'Good-bye!' he said:

"'You will be happy now, little sister, I know it. You have striven
nobly and will have your reward.'

"'The reward should be yours, Tone, not mine,' I answered, as I put my
arms round his neck and kissed him.

"Do you wonder now, Cora, that I love him so dearly, though he is my
step-brother?" my mother asked as she concluded, "and that I should like
him to see that I have endeavoured to do for you what he did for me?"



A NIGHT ON THE ROAD.

BY MARGARET WATSON.


The summer holidays had begun, and I was to travel home alone from
Paddington to Upperton.

I was quite old enough to travel alone, for I was fourteen, but it so
happened that I had never taken this journey by myself before. There was
only one change, and at Upperton the pony-cart would be waiting for me.
It was all quite simple, and I rather rejoiced in my independence as my
cab drew up under the archway at Paddington. But there my difficulties
began.

There was a raging, roaring crowd going off for holidays too. The cabman
demanded double the legal fare. It was a quarter of an hour before I
could get a porter for my luggage, and then I had almost to fight my way
to the ticket-office. When at last I had got my ticket the train was due
out.

"Jump in anywhere," said the porter; "I'll see that your luggage goes."

The carriages were crammed full. I raced down the platform till I saw
room for one, and then tore open the door, an sank into my seat as the
train steamed out of the station.

I looked round for sympathy at my narrow escape, but my
fellow-travellers were evidently one party. They looked at me coldly, as
at an unwelcome intruder, and drew more closely together, discussing the
day's doings; so I curled up in my corner and gave myself up to
anticipations of the holidays.

These were so engrossing that I took no count of the stations we passed
through. I was just picturing to myself the delights of a long ride on
the pony, when, to my amazement the stopping of the train was followed
by the loud exhortation:

"All change here!"

"Why, where are we?" I asked, looking up bewildered.

"At Lowford," replied one of my fellow-passengers.

But they gathered up their parcels, and swept out of the carriage
without a question as to my destination.

I seized on a porter.

"How did I get here?" I asked him; "I was going to Upperton. What has
happened?"

"Upperton, was you?" said the man. "Why, you must ha' got into the slip
carriage for Lowford. I s'pose 'twas a smartish crowd at Paddin'ton."

"It was," I replied, "and I hadn't time to ask if I was right. I suppose
my luggage has gone on. But what can I do now? How far is it to
Upperton? Is there another train?"

"Well, no, there ain't another train, not to-night. It's a matter of
fifteen mile to Upperton by the road."

"Which way is it?"

"Well, you couldn't miss it, that goes straight on pretty nigh all the
way. You've only got to follow the telegraph-postes till you comes to
the "Leather Bottle," and then you turns to the right."

"I know my way from there."

"But you could never walk all that way to-night. You'd better by half
stay at the hotel, and go on by rail in the morning."

"I'll wire to them at home to drive along the road and meet me, and I'll
walk on till they do."

"Well, it's fine, and I dessay they'll meet you more'n half way, but
'tis a lonely road this time o' night."

"I'm not afraid," said I, and walked off briskly.

I bought a couple of buns in a baker's shop, and went on to the
telegraph office--only to be told it was just after eight o'clock, and
they could send no message that night.

I turned out my pockets, but all the coins I had were a sixpenny and a
threepenny piece--not enough to pay for a night's lodging, I was sure.
The cabman's extortion, and a half-crown I had given to the porter at
Paddington in my haste, had reduced me to this.

What should I do? I was not long deciding to walk on. Perhaps they would
guess what had happened at home and send to meet me. The spice of
adventure appealed to me. If I had gone back to the porter he would
probably have taken me to the hotel, and they would have trusted me. But
I did not think of that--I imagine I did not want to think of it. I had
been used to country roads all my life, and it was a perfect evening in
late July.

My way lay straight into the heart of the setting sun as I took the
road. In a clear sky, all pale yellow and pink and green, the sun was
disappearing behind the line of beech-covered hills which lay between me
and home, but behind me the moon--as yet only like a tiny round white
cloud--was rising.

I felt like dancing along the road at first. The sense of freedom was
intoxicating. The scent of wild honeysuckle and cluster roses came from
the hedgerows. I ate my buns as I walked along; I had made three and a
half miles by the milestones in the first hour, and enjoyed every step
of the way.

"If they don't meet me," I thought, "how astonished they will be when I
walk in! It will be something to brag of for many a day, to have walked
fifteen miles after eight o'clock at night."

The daylight had faded, but the moon was so bright and clear that the
shadows of my solitary figure and the "telegraph-postes" were as black
and sharp as at noonday. Bats were flitting about up and down. A white
owl flew silently across the road. Rabbits were playing in the fields in
the silver light. It was all very beautiful, but a little lonely and
eerie. I hadn't passed a house for a mile.

Then I heard wheels behind me.

If it were some kind person who would give me a lift!

But I heard a lash used cruelly, and a rough, hoarse voice swearing at
the horse.

I hurried on, but of course the cart overtook me in a minute.

The man pulled up. He leaned down out of the cart to look at me, and I
saw his coarse, flushed face and watery eyes.

"Want a lift, my dear?" he asked.

"No, thank you," I answered, "I much prefer walking."

"Too late for a gal like you to be out," he said; "you jump up and drive
along o' me."

"No, thank you," I repeated, walking on as fast as I could.

He whipped his horse on to keep pace with me; then, leaning on the
dashboard, he made as though he would climb out of the cart. But just at
that moment a big bird rustled out of the hedge--the horse sprang aside,
precipitated his master into the bottom of the cart, and went off at a
gallop. Very thankful I was to see them disappear into the distance!

I was shaking so with fear that I had to sit down on a stone heap for a
while.

I pulled myself together and started on again, but all joy was gone from
the adventure--there seemed really to be too much adventure about it.

Three miles, four miles more I walked; but they did not go as the first
miles had gone. It was eleven o'clock, and I was only halfway; at this
rate I could not be home before two in the morning. If they had been
coming to meet me they would have done so before this. They must have
given me up for the night, every one would be in bed and asleep, and to
wake them up in the small hours would frighten them more than my not
coming home had done.

Moreover, the long road over the hill and through the woods was before
me. The thought of the moonlit, silent woods, with their weird shadows,
was too much for me; I looked about for a place of refuge for the night.

I soon found one.

A splendid rick of hay in a field close to the road had been cut.
Halfway up it there was a wide, broad ledge--just the place for a bed.
I did not take long to reach it, and, pulling some loose hay over myself
in case it grew chilly at dawn, I said my prayers--they were real
prayers that night--and was soon asleep in my soft, fragrant bed.

The sun woke me, shining hot on my nest. I looked at my watch, it was
six o'clock. Thrushes and blackbirds were singing their hearts out,
swallows were darting by, high in air a lark was hovering right above my
head, with quivering wings, singing his morning hymn of praise. I knelt,
up there on the hayrick, and let my thanks go with his to heaven's gate.

I had never felt such a keen sense of gratitude as I did that summer
morning: the dangers of the night all past and over, and a beautiful new
day given to me, and only seven miles and a half between me and home.

'Tis true that I was very hungry, but I started on my way and soon came
to a cottage whose mistress was up giving her husband his breakfast. She
very willingly gave me as much bread-and-butter as I could eat, and a
cup of tea. I did not quarrel with the thickness of the bread or the
quality of the butter, or even with the milkless tea--I had the poor
man's sauce to flavour them.

When she heard my story, the woman overwhelmed me with pity and regrets
that I had not reached her house overnight and slept there. But I did
not regret it. I would not have given up my "night on the road" now it
was over for worlds.

She was grateful for the sixpence I gave her--having learnt wisdom, I
reserved the threepenny bit--and I went on.

The air was delicious, with a spring and exhilaration in it which
belongs to the early morning hours. The sunlight played hide-and-seek in
the woods. Patches of purple heath alternated with lilac scabious and
pale hare-bells. The brake ferns were yellow-tipped here and there--a
forewarning of autumn--and in one little nook I found a bed of luscious
wild strawberries. My heart danced with my feet, and I wondered if the
tramps ever felt as I did, in the summer mornings, after sleeping out
under a hedge.

I reached home by nine o'clock, and then there was a hubbub, and a
calling out of, "Here's Muriel!" "Why, Muriel, where have you sprung
from?" "What happened last night? We were so frightened, but they told
us at the station that it was an awful crowd at Paddington, and you must
have missed the train, and of course we thought you would go back to
Miss Black's, but you ought to have wired."

It was ever so long before I could make them believe that I had been out
all night, and slept in a hayrick; and then mother was almost angry with
me, and father told me if ever I found myself in such a predicament
again I was to go to a respectable hotel and persuade them to take me
in. But he said he would take very good care that no child of his should
ever be in such a predicament again. But I could not be sorry, the
beginning and the end were so beautiful.



THE MISSING LETTER.

BY JENNIE CHAPPELL.


The Briars was a very old-fashioned house, standing in its own grounds,
about ten miles from Smokeytown. It was much dilapidated, for Miss Clare
the owner and occupier, had not the necessary means for repairing it,
and as she had lived there from her birth--a period of nearly sixty
years--did not like to have the old place pulled down. Not more than
half the rooms were habitable, and in one of them---the former
dining-room--there sat, one January afternoon, Miss Clare, with her
young nephew and niece. They were having tea, and the firelight danced
cosily on the worn, once handsome furniture, and the portly metal
teapot, which replaced the silver one, long since parted with for half
its value in current coin. The only modern article in the room,
excepting the aforesaid nephew and niece, was a pretty, though
inexpensive, pianoforte, which stood under a black-looking portrait of a
severe-visaged lady with her waist just under her arms, and a general
resemblance, as irreverent Aubrey said, to a yard and a half of pump
water.

Just now Miss Clare was consuming toast in silence, and Kate was
wondering if there was any way of making bows that had been washed twice
and turned three times look like new; while Aubrey's handsome head was
bent over a book, for he was addicted to replenishing mind and body at
the same time. Suddenly Miss Clare exclaimed, "Dear me; it is fifty
years to-day since Marjorie Westford died!"

Kate glanced up at the pump-water lady, with the laconic remark,
"Fancy!"

"It's very likely that on such an interesting anniversary the fair Miss
Marjorie may revisit her former haunts," said Aubrey, raising a pair of
glorious dark eyes with a mischievous smile; "so if you hear an
unearthly bumping and squealing in the small hours, you may know who it
is."

"The idea of a ghost 'bumping and squealing,'" laughed Kate. "And Miss
Marjorie, too! The orthodox groan and glide would be more like her
style." Then her mind wandered to a story connected with that lady,
which had given rise to much speculation on the part of the young
Clares. Half a century ago there lived at the Briars a family consisting
of a brother and two sisters; the former a gay young spendthrift of
twenty-five; the girls, Anna, aged twenty, and Lucy, the present Miss
Clare, nine years old respectively. With them resided a maiden sister of
their mother's, Marjorie Westford, an eccentric person, whose property
at her death reverted to a distant relative. A short time before she
died she divided her few trinkets and personal possessions between the
three young people, bequeathing to Anna, in addition, a sealed letter,
to be read on her twenty-first birthday. The girl hid the packet away
lest she should be tempted to read it before the appointed time; but ere
that arrived she was drowned by the upsetting of a boat, and never since
had the concealed letter been found, although every likely place had
been searched for it. Lucy never married, and George had but one son,
whose wife died soon after the birth of Kate, and in less than a year he
married again, this time to a beautiful young heiress, subsequently
mother to Aubrey, who was thus rather more than two years Kate's junior.

The younger George Clare, a spendthrift like his father, speedily
squandered his wife's fortune, and died, leaving her with barely
sufficient to keep herself and little son from want. Yet such was Mrs.
Clare's undying love for the husband who had treated her so badly, that
in their greatest straits she refused to part with a locket containing
his likeness and hers which was valuable by reason of the diamonds and
sapphires with which it was encrusted. This locket was the only thing
she had to leave her little Aubrey when she died, and he, a lovely boy
of nine summers, went with his half-sister (who had a small sum of money
settled on her by her maternal grandfather) to reside with their
great-aunt, Miss Clare.

Presently the quietness at the tea-table was disturbed by a loud single
knock at the front door, and Aubrey bounced out of the room.

"A note from Mr. Green," he said, returning. "I wonder what's up now? No
good, I'm afraid."

This foreboding was only too fully realised. The agent for Miss Clare's
little property at Smokeytown wrote to tell her that during a recent
gale one of her best houses had been so much injured by the falling of a
factory chimney, that the repairs would cost quite £30 before it could
again be habitable. This was a dire misfortune. So closely was their
income cut, and so carefully apportioned to meet the household expenses,
that, after fullest consideration, Miss Clare could only see her way
clear for getting together about £15 towards meeting this unexpected
demand, and three very anxious faces bent around the table in
discussion.

Presently Aubrey slipped away and ran upstairs to his own room. He then
lit a candle, and pulling a box from under an old horse-hair chair,
unlocked it, taking out a small morocco case, which, when opened,
revealed something that sparkled and scintillated even in the feeble
rays of the cheap "composite." It was the precious locket, placed in his
hands by his dying mother four years before. Inside were two exquisite
miniatures on ivory--the one a handsome, careless-looking man, the
other, on which the boy's tender gaze was now fixed, was the portrait of
a lady, with just such pure, bright features, and sweet, dark-grey eyes
as Aubrey himself.

"Mother, my own darling," he murmured, pressing the picture to his lips,
"how _can_ I part with you?" And dropping his head on the hard, prickly
cushion, by which he knelt, he cried in a way that would considerably
have astonished the youths with whom he had, a few hours earlier,
engaged in a vigorous snowball fight. They only knew a bright, mirthful
Aubrey Clare, the cleverest lad in his class, and the "jolliest fellow
out;" none but Kate had any idea of the deepest affections of his boyish
heart, and she truly sympathised with her half-brother in his love for
the only portrait and souvenir remaining of the gentle creature who had
so well supplied a mother's place for her. Something in Aubrey's face
when he left the room had told her of his thoughts, so presently she
followed him and tapped at the half-open door. Obtaining no answer, she
entered, and saw the boy kneeling before the old chair with his head
bent. The open case lay beside him, and Kate easily guessed what it was
held so tightly in his clenched hand. She stooped beside him, and
stroked his wavy hair caressingly as she said, "It can't be that,
Aubrey."

"It must," replied a muffled voice from the chair cushion.

"It _sha'n't_ be," said Kate firmly. "I've thought of a plan----"

But Aubrey sprang to his feet. "See here, Katie," he said excitedly, but
with quivering voice; "I've been making an idol of this locket. It ought
to have gone before, when aunt lost so much money by those Joneses; but
you both humoured my selfishness."

"Being fond of anything, especially anything like that, isn't making an
idol of it, I'm sure," said Katie.

"It is if it prevents you doing what you ought, I tell you, Katie; it's
downright dishonest of me to keep this," he continued, with burning
cheeks, "living as I am upon charity, and aunt so poor. I see it plainly
now. Mr. Wallis offered to buy it of me last summer, and if he likes he
shall have it now."

"He is gone to Rillford," said Kate, in whose mind an idea was beginning
to hatch.

"He'll be back on Saturday, and then I'll ask him. It won't be _really_
losing mamma's likeness, you know," he added, with a pathetic attempt at
his own bright smile. "Whenever I shut my eyes I can see her face, just
as she looked when----" but he was stopped by a queer fit of coughing
and rubbed the curl of his hair that always tumbled over his forehead;
so Katie couldn't see his face, but she knew what the sacrifice must
cost him, and, girl-like, exalted him to a pedestal of heroism
immediately; but when she would have bestowed an enthusiastic embrace,
he slipped away from her and ran downstairs.

Left alone, Kate stood long at the uncurtained window, gazing at the
unearthlike beauty of the moonlit snow. When at last she turned away,
the afore mentioned idea was fully fledged and strong.

She found her hero with his nose ungracefully tucked into an uncut
magazine, and his chair tilted at a perilous angle with the floor, just
like any ordinary boy, and felt a tiny bit disappointed. Presently she
turned to the piano, which was to her a companion and never failing
delight. She had a taste for music, which Miss Clare had, as far as was
practicable, cultivated; and although Kate had not received much
instruction, she played with a sweetness and expression that quite made
up for any lack of brilliant execution. This evening her touch was very
tender, and the tunes she played were sad.

By-and-bye Katie lingered, talking earnestly with her aunt long after
Aubrey had gone to bed; and when at last she wished her good-night, she
added, anxiously, "Then I really may, auntie; you are sure you don't
mind?"

And Miss Clare said, "I give you full permission to do what you like,
dear. If you love Aubrey well enough to make so great a sacrifice for
him, I hope he will appreciate your generosity as he ought; but whether
he does or not, you will surely not lose your reward. I am more grieved
than I can tell you to know that it is necessary."

Two days later, Aubrey was just going to tear a piece off the
_Smokeytown Standard_ to do up a screw of ultramarine, when his eye was
arrested by an advertisement which he read two or three times before he
could believe the evidence of his senses; it was this,--

"To be sold immediately, a pretty walnut-wood cottage pianoforte, in
excellent condition, and with all the latest improvements. Price 15_l._
Apply at 'The Briars,' London Road."

He rushed upstairs to Kate, who, with her head adorned by a check
duster, was busy sweeping (for they had no servant), and burst in upon
her with, "What on earth are you going to sell it for?"

There was no need to inquire what "it" was, and Kate, without pausing in
her occupation, replied, "To help make up the money aunt wants."

"But if Mr. Wallis buys the locket;" then the truth flashed upon him,
and he broke off suddenly, "Oh, Katie, you're _never_ going to----"

"Sell the piano because I don't want the locket to go," finished Katie,
with a smile, that in spite of the check duster made her look quite
angelic.

Aubrey flew at her, and hugging her, broom and all, exclaimed,--

"Oh, how _could_ you! You are too good; I didn't half deserve it. Was
there ever such a darling sister before?" and a great deal more in the
same strain, as he showered kisses upon her till he took away her
breath, one moment declaring that she shouldn't do it and he wouldn't
have it, and the next assuring her that he could never thank her enough,
and never forget it as long as he lived. And Katie was as happy as he
was.

It was rather a damper, however, when that day passed, and the next, and
no one came to look even at the bargain. Aubrey said that if no
purchaser appeared before the following Wednesday, he should certainly
go to Mr. Wallis about the locket; and it really seemed as if Katie's
sacrifice was not to be made after all.

Tuesday afternoon came, still nobody had been in answer to the
advertisement. It was a pouring wet day, and Aubrey's holiday hung
heavily on his hands. He had read every book he could get at, painted
two illuminations, constructed several "patent" articles for Kate, which
would have been great successes, but for sundry "ifs," and abandoned as
hopeless the task of teaching Cæsar, Miss Clare's asthmatic old dog, to
stand upon his hind legs, and was now gazing drearily out on the soaked
garden, almost wishing the vacation over. Suddenly he turned to his
sister, who was holding a skein of worsted for her aunt to wind,
exclaiming, "Katie, I've struck a bright!"

"What is it?" she asked, understanding that he had had an inspiration of
some sort. "An apparatus for getting at nuts without cracking them; or a
chest-protector for Cæsar to wear in damp weather?"

"Neither; I'm going to rummage in the old bookcase upstairs, and see if
I can come across anything fit to read, or an adventure." And not being
in the habit of letting the grass grow under his feet (if vegetation was
ever known to develop in such unfavourable circumstances), he bounded
away; while Miss Clare observed, rather anxiously, "When that boy goes
adventure-seeking, it generally ends in a catastrophe; but I don't think
he can do much mischief up there."

Ten minutes afterwards, Katie went to see how Aubrey was getting on, and
found him doing nothing worse than polishing the covers of some very
dirty old books with one of his best pocket-handkerchiefs. When she
remonstrated with him, he recommended her to get a proper, ordained
duster, and undertake that part of the programme herself. So presently
she was quite busy, for Aubrey tossed the books out much faster than she
could dust and examine them. Very discoloured, mouldy-smelling old books
they were, of a remarkably uninteresting character generally, which
perhaps accounted for their long abandonment to the dust and damp of
that unused apartment. When the case was emptied, and the contents piled
upon the floor, Aubrey said, "Now lend us a hand to pull the old thing
out, and see what's behind."

"Spiders," replied Katie promptly, edging back.

"I'll have the satisfaction of a gentleman of the first spider that
looks at you," said Aubrey, reassuringly. "Come, catch hold!"

So Katie "caught hold;" and between them they managed to drag the
cumbrous piece of furniture sufficiently far out of the recess in which
it stood for the boy to slip behind. The half-high wainscoting had in
one place dissolved partnership with the wall; and obeying an impulse
for which he could never account, Aubrey dived behind, fishing out,
among several odd leaves and dilapidated covers, a small hymn-book bound
in red leather. Kate took it to the window to examine, for the light was
fading fast. On the fly-leaf was written in childish, curly-tailed
letters, "Anna Clare; July 1815," followed by the exquisite poetical
stanza commencing,--

    "The grass is green, the rose is red;
    Think of me when I am dead,"

which she read aloud to her brother. A minute afterwards, as she turned
the brown-spotted leaves, there fell out a packet, a letter
superscribed, "Miss Anna Clare; to be read on her twenty-first birthday,
and when quite alone." Katie gasped, "Oh, look!" and dropped the paper
as if it burned her fingers. Aubrey sprang forward, prepared to slay a
giant spider, but when his eyes fell upon the writing which had so
startled his sister, he too seemed petrified. They gazed fixedly into
each other's eyes for a minute, then Aubrey said emphatically,--

"It's _that_!" And both rushed precipitately downstairs, exclaiming,
"Auntie, auntie, we've found it!"

Now Miss Clare was just partaking of that popular refreshment "forty
winks," and was some time before she could understand what had so
greatly excited her young relations; but when at last it dawned upon
her, she hastily brought out her spectacles, and lit the lamp, while
every moment seemed an hour to the impatient children. When would she
leave off turning the yellow packet in her fingers, and poring over the
faded writing outside? At last the seal is broken, and two pairs of
eager eyes narrowly watch Miss Clare's face as she scans the contents.

"It _is_ the long-lost letter!" she exclaimed in astonishment. "Where
did you find it?"

Both quickly explained, adding, "Do read it, auntie; what does Miss
Marjorie say?"

So in a trembling voice Miss Clare read the words penned by a dying hand
fifty years before,--

     "MY DEAREST ANNA,--I feel that I have but a short time
     longer to live, and but one thing disturbs my peace. It is
     the presentiment that sooner or later the thoughtless
     extravagance of your brother George will bring you all into
     trouble. It is little I can do to avert this calamity, but
     years of economy have enabled me to save 280_l._ (which is
     concealed beneath the floor in my room, under the third
     plank from the south window, about ten inches from the
     wall). I wish you, niece Anna, to hold this money in trust,
     as a profound secret, and to be used _only_ in case of an
     emergency such as I have hinted. In the event of none such
     taking place before your sister is of age, you are then to
     divide the money, equally between yourself, George and
     Lucy, to use as you each may please. Hoping that I have
     made my purpose clear, and that my ever trustworthy Anna
     will faithfully carry out my wishes, I pray that the
     blessing of God may rest richly on my nephew and nieces,
     and bid you, dearest girl, farewell.

                                           "MARJORIE WESTFORD.
     "January 2nd, 1825."

Miss Clare's eyes were dim when she finished these words, sounding, as
they did, like a voice from the grave, while Kate and Aubrey sat in
spellbound silence. The boy was the first to speak.

"Do you think it is still there?"

"There is no reason why it should not be," replied Miss Clare; "indeed
it seems that this legacy, so strangely hidden for half a century, and
as strangely brought to light, is to be the means by which our Father
will bring us out of our present difficulties."

"Get a light, Katie, and let's look for the treasure; that will be the
best way of making sure that our adventure isn't the result of a
mince-pie supper," suggested Aubrey, producing his tool-box.

So they all proceeded to the room, now seldom entered, where Marjorie
Westford breathed her last. It was almost empty, and the spot indicated
in the letter was soon determined upon. Aubrey knelt down on the floor,
and commenced, in a most unsystematic way, his task of raising the
board; while Katie, trembling with excitement, dropped grease spots on
his head from her tilted candlestick.

Aubrey's small tools were wholly inadequate to their task, and many were
the cuts and bruises his inexperienced hands received before he at
length succeeded in prising the stubborn plank.

There lay the mahogany box, which, with some trouble, owing to its
weight, they succeeded in bringing to the surface. It fastened by a
simple catch, and was filled with golden guineas.

When Kate bade Aubrey good-night upon the stairs, he detained her a
minute to murmur with a soft light in his dusky eyes,--

"I'm so very, very glad your sacrifice isn't to be made, darling, but
the will is just the same as the deed. I shall love you for it as long
as you live; and better still," he added, with deepening colour and
lowered voice, "God knows, and will love you too."



"THE COLONEL."

BY MARION DICKEN.


Dick was only thirteen years of age, but he was in love, and in love too
with Captain Treves's wife, who, in his eyes, was spick-span perfection.
In their turn Mrs. Treves's two little boys, aged six and five
respectively, were in love with Dick, who appeared to them to be the
model of all that a schoolboy ought to be.

It was in church on Easter Sunday that Dick first realised his passion,
and then--as he glanced from Mrs. Treves to the captain's stalwart
form--the hopelessness of it! He remarked, afterwards, to his brother
Ted, a lieutenant in Treves's regiment, that Mrs. Treves looked
"ripping" in grey. But Ted was busy with his own thoughts, in which, if
the truth be told, the sermon figured as little as in those of his
younger brother.

Dick was on very friendly terms with the Treves and was rather surprised
to find that the captain and his wife treated him more like a little boy
than a "chap of thirteen--in fact, almost fourteen," as he put it to
himself. He used to take Jack and Roy out on the river and to the baths,
where he taught them both to swim. To use Ted's own expression to a
brother-sub, "Dick was making a thorough nursemaid and tutor of himself
to those kids of the captain's." He _was_ teaching them certainly,
unconsciously, but steadily, a great many things.

Jack no longer cried when he blistered his small paws trying to scull,
and when Roy thought of Dick, or the "colonel," as they called him, he
left off making grimaces at, and teasing, his baby sister, because Dick
had answered carelessly when Jack once offered to fight him, "No thanks,
old boy, I only hit a chap my own size." Roy recognised the difference
between tormenting a girl and fighting a boy.

About three weeks after Dick went back to school for the summer term,
both the little Treves's fell ill, and Jack cried incessantly for "the
colonel." Yet when kind old Colonel Duke came to see him one afternoon,
and brought him some grapes, the child turned fretfully away and still
cried, "'Colonel'; I want the 'colonel'!"

"But, Jack dear, this is the colonel," remonstrated his mother, gently
smoothing the crumpled pillow.

But Jack still wailed fretfully, and would not be comforted.

Colonel Duke happened to remark on the incident at mess that evening,
and Ted Lloyd knitted his brows, as if trying to solve some mental
mystery. The result of his cogitations was an early visit to Mrs. Treves
next day.

The children were worse. Roy was, indeed, dangerously ill; and neither
his father nor mother could persuade Jack to take his medicine.

"We cannot think whom he means by 'colonel'," added the poor lady
despairingly.

"That's just what I've come about, Mrs. Treves; they used to call my
young brother that at Easter."

"You are sure, Mr. Lloyd?"

"Quite. I heard them myself more than once. I'll trot round and see the
Mater, and we will wire for him if it will do any good."

That afternoon Dick received a telegram which sent him off full speed to
his housemaster for the necessary permission to go home.

"Is Mater ill?" he asked breathlessly, as he bundled out of the train on
to Ted, who bore the onrush heroically.

"No, she's quite well, only Treves's kids are ill."

"Well?" queried Dick rather indignantly, as he thought of the
cricket-match on the morrow, in which he had hoped to take part.

"Well, you see, Dick, they're seriously ill, and they can't make the
little 'un take his physic."

"Well, I can't take it for him, can I? queried Dick, as they started
home.

"Nobody wants you to, you little duffer. But the kids used to call you
'colonel,' and now he keeps crying for you. Perhaps if you order him to
take the physic, he will--that's all."

"Oh!" briefly responded Dick.

He was sorry to hear that his whilom chums, the "captain" and
"lieutenant," were ill. But weren't kids always having something or
other, and would he always be sent for to dose them? "Rot!"

However, these thoughts abruptly left him, when, directly after tea, he
went to the captain's and saw Mrs. Treves' pale and anxious face, and
instead, his old allegiance, but deeper and truer, returned.

"Thank you, Dick," she said kindly in reply to his awkward tender of
sympathy. And then they went upstairs.

By Jack's bed a glass of medicine was standing. A nurse was turning
Roy's pillow, and Captain Treves stood by her, gnawing his long
moustache.

Just then Jack's fretful wail sounded through the room for "'Colonel!'
Daddy, Jack wants the 'colonel'!"

"I'm here, old man," said Dick, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
"Drink this at once," he added, taking up the glass, as he remembered
his brother's suggestion.

But Jack had clutched Dick's hand and now lay back sleepily.

Dick felt desperate. He glanced round. Captain and Mrs. Treves and the
nurse were gathered round the other little white bed. Was Roy worse?
With what he felt to be an unmanly lump in his throat, he leaned over
the boy again.

"Jack, I say, Jack" (hurriedly), "if you drink this you shall be a
captain."

Jack heard, and when Dick raised him up, he drained the glass.

"But Roy, Dick, he's a captain?"

"Roy shall be promoted too," replied Dick.

And just then the captain left the other bed and came over to Jack. Dick
could see Mrs. Treves bending over Roy, and the nurse leaving the room.
He looked up and saw that there were actually tears in the captain's
eyes. He had never seen a soldier cry before, and guessed what had
happened. Roy had indeed been promoted. He would never again "play
soldiers" with Jack or Dick.

Jack was now sleeping quietly, and the doctor, who came in an hour
later, pronounced him out of danger.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Goodbye, my boy. We thought you'd like Roy's watch as you were fond of
him," said the captain next day; and then Mrs. Treves not only shook
hands, but stooped and kissed him.

Dick flushed, muttered some incoherent thanks, and went off to the
station.

Dick reached school in time for the cricket-match, after all; but, fond
as he was of cricket, he absented himself from the ground that
afternoon, and spent the time printing off some photos of "two kids," as
a chum rather scornfully remarked.

One of those "kids" is now a lieutenant in the regiment of which Dick is
a captain, and, indeed, in a fair way to become a colonel--for the
second time in his life.



NETTIE.

BY ALFRED G. SAYERS.


Nettie was a bright, fair girl of fifteen years of age, tall and
graceful in movement and form, and resolute in character beyond her
years. She was standing on the departure platform of the L. & N. W.
Railway at Euston Square, watching the egress of the Manchester express,
or rather that part of it which disclosed a head, an arm, and a cap, all
moving in frantic and eccentric evolutions.

Tom, her brother, two years her senior, was on his way back to school
for his last term, full of vague, if big, ideas of what he was going to
be when, school days over, he should "put away childish things." "Most
of our fellows," he had said loftily, as he stood beside his sister on
the platform a few moments before, "go into the Army or Navy and become
admirals or generals or something of that sort." And then he had hinted
with less definiteness that his own career would probably combine the
advantages of all the professions though he only followed one. But Tom
soon dropped from these sublime heights to more mundane considerations,
and his last words concerned a new cricket bat which Nettie was to
"screw out of the gov'nor" for him, a new pup which she was to bring up
by hand under his special directions, and correspondence, which on her
part at least, was to be regular, and not too much occupied with details
about "the kids."

Nettie sighed as she turned her steps homewards, and her handkerchief
was damped by at least one drop of distilled emotion that bedewed the
rose upon her cheek. Poor Nettie, she too was conscious of a destiny,
and had bewildered thoughts of what she was going to be! She had opened
her heart on this subject to her brother Tom during the holidays; but
she had not received much encouragement, and at the present moment she
was inclined to murmur at the reflection that the world was made for
boys, and after all she was only a girl.

"What will you be?" Tom had said in answer to her question during one of
their confidential chats. "You? why, you--well, you will stay with the
mater, of course."

"Yes; but girls do all sorts of things nowadays, Tom," she had replied.
"Some are doctors, some are authors, some are----"

"Blue-stockings," responded the ungallant Tom. "Don't be absurd, Net,"
he added patronisingly; "you'll stay with the pater and mater, and some
day you will marry some fellow, or you can keep house for me, and then,
when I am not with my ship or my regiment, of course I shall be with
you."

Poor Nettie! She had formed an idea that the possibilities of life ought
to include something more heroic for her than keeping house for her
brother, and she had determined that she would not sink herself in the
hum-drum of uneventful existence without some effort to avoid it; and so
it happened that that same evening, after doing her duty by the baby pup
and Tom's new cricket bat, she startled her father and mother by the
somewhat abrupt and altogether unexpected question,--

"Father, what am I going to be?"

"Be?" repeated her father, drawing her on to his knee, "why, be my good
little daughter as you always have been, Nettie. Are you tired of that,
dear?"

But no, Nettie was not tired of her father's love, and she had no idea
of being less affectionate because she wanted to be more wise and
useful, and so she returned her father's caresses with interest, and
treated her mother in the same way, so that there might be no jealousy;
and then, sitting down in the armchair with the air of one commanding
attention, harked back to the all-absorbing topic. "You know, father,
there's Minnie Roberts, isn't there?"

"What if there is?" replied her father.

"Well, you know she's going to the University, don't you, dad?"

"No, I didn't."

"Well, she is. Then she'll be a doctor, or professor, or something.
That's what I should like to be."

Mr. Anderson looked from his wife to his daughter with somewhat of
surprise on his face. He was a just man; and he and his wife had but
recently discussed the plans (including personal sacrifices) by which
Master Tom's advancement was to be secured. Really, that anything
particular needed to be done for Nettie had hardly occurred to him. He
had imagined her going on at the High School for another year, say, and
then settling down as mother's companion. His desire not to be harsh,
coupled with his unreadiness, led Mr. Anderson to temporise. "Well,
little girl," he said, "you plod on, and we'll have a talk about it."
Nettie was in a triumphant mood. She had expected repulse, to be
reminded of the terrible expense Tom was, and was to be, and she felt
the battle already won. Doubtless the fact that Nettie was heartened was
a great deal toward the success that was unexpectedly to dazzle her. She
worked hard at school, and yet so buoyant was her spirit, that she found
it easy to neglect none of her customary duties at home. She helped dust
the drawing-room, and ran to little Dorothy in her troubles as of yore;
and Mrs. Anderson came to remark more and more often to her husband,
what a treat it would be when Nettie came home for good. "You can see
she has forgotten every word about the idea of a profession," said that
lady; "and I'm very glad. She's the light of the house." Forgotten! Oh
no! Far from it! as they were soon to realise. The end of the term
came--Tom was expected home on the morrow, Saturday. In the afternoon
Nettie walked in from school, her face ablaze with excitement. For a
moment she could say nothing; so that her mother dropped her work and
wondered if Nettie had picked up a thousand-pound note. Then came the
announcement--"Mother! I've won a Scholarship!"

"You have?"

"Yes, mother dear, I'm the QUEEN VICTORIA SCHOLAR!" Nettie stood up and
bowed.

"And what does that do for you?"

"Why, I can go on studying for my profession for three years, and it
won't cost father a penny!"

"What profession, dear?"

"I don't know, mother, what. But I want to be a doctor."

"A what!"

"A doctor, mother. Minnie Roberts is studying for a doctor; and I think
it's splendid."

"What! cut people open with a knife!"

"Yes, mother, if it's going to do them good."

"But, my dear----"

However, Nettie knew very little about the medical profession; she only
knew that Minnie Roberts went about just in the independent way that a
man does, and was studying hard, and seemed very lively and witty. So
detailed discussion was postponed to congratulation, inquiry, and
surmise. "What _will_ Tom say?" Nettie found herself continually asking
herself, and herself quite unable to answer herself. What Tom did
actually say we must detail in its proper place, which comes when Mr.
Anderson and Nettie go to meet him at the station. They were both rather
excited, for Mr. Anderson had, to tell the truth, felt somewhat guilty
towards his little daughter over the question of the profession. While
he had flattered himself that the idea was a passing fancy, she had
cherished his words of encouragement, and had made easier the
realisation of her dream by her steady improvement of the opportunity at
hand, viz., her school work.

Tom kissed Nettie and shook hands with his father, and then it was that
Nettie said,--

"Tom, I've won a Scholarship!"

And then it was, standing beside his luggage, that Tom replied,--

"Sennacherib!"

Though not strictly to the point, no other word or phrase could have
shown those who knew Tom how much he was moved. Nettie knew. She was
rather sorry Tom had to be told at all, for he had been quite
unsuccessful this term, a good deal to his father's disappointment; and
Nettie was sure he must feel the contrast of her own success rather
keenly. They talked of other things on the way home, and directly Tom
had kissed his mother and Dorothy and Joe, Nettie said, "Now shall we go
and get the pup? I can tell you he's a beauty!"

"What a brick you are, Net, to think of it!" said Tom. "Yes; let's go."

These holidays were very delightful to Nettie and Tom; that young man
permitted, even encouraged, terms of perfect equality. He forgot to
patronise or disparage his sister or her sex. Perhaps his sister's
success and his own lack of it had made him feel a bit modest. Nettie
had explained her achievement both to herself and others by the fact
that she had been so happy. And she was right. Some people talk as
though a discipline of pain were necessary for all people in order to
develop the best in them. That is not so. There are certain temperaments
found in natures naturally fine, to whom a discipline of pleasure is
best, especially in youth, and happily God often sends pleasure to
these: we mean the pleasure of success; the pleasure of realising
cherished plans; the pleasure of health and strength to meet every duty
of life cheerfully. And now Nettie began to build castles in the air for
Tom. Tom would go to Sandhurst; he would pass well; he would have a
commission in a crack regiment. And Tom's repentance of some former
disparagement of the sex was shown in such remarks as "that Beauchamp
major--you know, the fellow I told you a good deal about."

"Oh yes, a fine fellow!"

"Well, I don't know, Net--I begin to think he's a beastly idiot. That
fellow was bragging to me the other day that he bullied his sisters into
fagging for him when he was at home. I think that's enough for me." And
so holidays again came to an end, to Nettie's secret delight. She hated
parting with Tom, but she longed to be back at her work.

       *       *       *       *       *

Six years passed away and Nettie's career had been one of unbroken
success. She had proceeded to Newnham and had come out splendidly in her
examinations. Only one thing clouded her sky. Tom had not been
successful. In spite of all that coaching could do, he had been plucked
at Sandhurst, and the doctor had prohibited further study for the
present. Nettie wrote to him constantly, making light of his failure,
and assuring him of ultimate success. And now she was to make her start
in her chosen profession. Before long she would be able to write herself
"Nettie Anderson, M.D." and she was then to go into practice with her
elder friend, Minnie Roberts. Little paragraphs had even appeared in
some of the papers that "for the first time in the history of medicine
in England, two lady graduates in medicine are to practise in
partnership." Miss Roberts was already settled in one of the Bloomsbury
squares, and had a constantly increasing circle of clients.

One Saturday afternoon in October the inaugural banquet was held. Nettie
had a flat of her own in the house, and here the feast was spread. Mr.
and Mrs. Anderson, Tom, and the two doctors formed the company. They
were all so proud of Nettie that they almost forgot Tom's lack of
success. There was what is understood as a high time. Who so gay and
bright as Nettie! Who so gentle and courteous as Tom! (I am afraid a
discipline of failure is best for some of us!) How the time flew! How
soon mother and Nettie had to go to Nettie's room for the mother to don
her bonnet and get back home in decent time!

"But you'll be marrying, you know, some day, Nettie."

"Ah! time will show, mother dear," was Nettie's answer; and then she
added, "but if I do it will be from choice and not necessity."



THE MAGIC CABINET.

BY ALBERT E. HOOPER.


    "A castle built of granite.
      With towers grim and tall;
    A castle built of rainbows,
      With sunbeams over all:--
    I pass the one, in ruins,
      And mount a golden stair,--
    For the newest and the truest,
    And the oldest and the boldest,
    And the fairest and the rarest,
      Is my castle in the air."--M.


I.

ON TWO SIDES OF THE CABINET.


"Plenty of nourishment, remember, Mr. Goodman," said the doctor; "you
must really see that your wife carries out my instructions. And you, my
dear lady, mustn't trouble about want of appetite. The appetite will
come all in good time, if you do what I tell you. Good-afternoon."

Little Grace Goodman gazed after the retreating figure of the doctor;
and when the door closed behind him and her father, she turned to look
at her mother.

Mrs. Goodman looked very pale and ill, and as she lay back in her
cushioned-chair she tried to wipe away a tear unseen. But Grace's sight
was very sharp, and she ran across the room and threw her arms
impetuously round her mother's neck.

"Oh, mother, are you very miserable?" she asked, while her own lip
quivered pitifully.

"No, no, my darling, not 'very miserable,'" answered her mother, kissing
the little girl tenderly. "Hush! don't cry, my love, or you will make
father unhappy. Here he comes."

Mr. Goodman re-entered the room looking very thoughtful; but as he came
and sat down beside his wife, he smiled and said cheerfully, "You will
soon be well now, the doctor says. The worst is over, and you only need
strengthening."

Mrs. Goodman smiled sadly.

"He little knows how impossible it is to carry out his orders," she
said.

"Not impossible. We shall be able to manage it, I think."

A sudden light of hope sprang into the sick lady's eyes.

"Is the book taken at last, then?" she asked eagerly.

"The book? No, indeed. The publishers all refuse to have anything to do
with it. It is a risky business, you see, to bring out such an expensive
book, and I can't say that I'm surprised at their refusal."

"How are we to get the money, then?" asked his wife. "We have barely
enough for our everyday wants, and we cannot spare anything for extras."

"We must sell something."

Mrs. Goodman glanced round the shabbily furnished room, and then looked
back at her husband questioningly.

"Uncle Jacob's Indian cabinet must go," said he.

Mrs. Goodman looked quickly towards a large black piece of furniture
which stood in a dusky corner of the room, and after a moment's pause,
she said: "I don't like to part with it at all. It may be very foolish
and superstitious of me, but I always feel that we should be unwise to
forget Uncle Jacob's advice. You know what he said about it in his
will."

"I can't say that I remember much about it," answered her husband. "I
have a dim remembrance that he said something that sounded rather
heathenish about the cabinet bringing good luck to its owners. I didn't
pay much attention to it at the time, because I don't believe in
anything of the sort. And besides, your Uncle Jacob was a very peculiar
old gentleman; one never knew what to make of his odd fancies and
whims."

"Yes, you are quite right; he was a strange old man; but somehow I never
shared the belief of most people that his intellect was weak. I think he
had gathered some out-of-the-way notions during his life in India; but
his mind always seemed clear enough on practical questions."

"Well, what was it he said about the Indian cabinet?"

"He said that he left it to us because we had no need for any of his
money--we had plenty of our own then!--that the old Magic Cabinet, as he
called it, had once been the property of a rich Rajah, who had received
it from the hands of a wise Buddhist priest; that there was something
talismanic about it, which gave it the power of averting misfortune from
its owners; and that it would be a great mistake ever to part with it."

Mr. Goodman laughed uneasily.

"I wonder what Uncle Jacob would say now," said he. "When he amused
himself by writing all that fanciful rubbish in his will, he little
thought that we should be reduced to such want. It is true, he never
believed that my book would be worth anything; but he could not foresee
the failure of the bank and the loss of all our money. I scarcely think,
if he were alive now, that he would advise me to keep the cabinet and
allow you to go without the nourishment the doctor orders."

The invalid sighed.

"I suppose there is no help for it," she answered. "The old cabinet must
go; for I am useless without strength, and I only make the struggle
harder for you."

All the time her father and mother had been talking, little Grace had
been looking from one to the other with eager, wide-open eyes; and now
she cried: "Oh, mother! must the dear old black cabinet be taken away?
And sha'n't we ever see it again!"

Her father drew her between his knees and smoothed back her fluffy
golden hair as he said gently: "I know how you will miss it, dear; you
have had such splendid games and make-believes with it, haven't you? But
you will be glad to give it up to make mother well, I know."

"Will mother be quite well when the old cabinet is gone away?" asked
Grace. "Will her face be bright and pink like it used to be? And will
she go out of doors again?"

"Yes, darling, I hope so. I am going out now to ask a man to come and
fetch away the cabinet, and while I am gone I want mother to try and get
'forty winks,' so you must be very quiet."

"Yes, I will," answered Grace quickly. "I must go and say 'good-bye' to
the cabinet."

Saying this, the little girl ran to the corner of the room in which the
cabinet stood; and Mr. Goodman, bending down, kissed his wife's pale
face very tenderly, whispered a word of hope and comfort in her ear, and
then left the room; and a moment later the sound of the house-door told
that he had gone out.

Gradually the twilight grew dimmer and dimmer in the little room; and as
the dusky shadows, which had been lurking in the corners, began to creep
out across the floor and walls and ceiling, Mrs. Goodman fell into a
peaceful sleep.

But little Grace sat quite still on the floor, gazing at the Indian
cabinet.

It was a large and handsome piece of furniture made of ebony, which
looked beautifully black and shiny; and the folding doors in front were
carved in a wonderful fashion, and inlaid with cunning silver tracery.
The carvings on these doors had always been Grace's special delight;
they had served as her picture books and toys since her earliest
remembrance, and she knew every line of them by heart. All the birds,
and beasts, and curly snakes were old friends; but Grace paid little
attention to any of them just now. All her thoughts were given to the
central piece of carving, half of which was on each of the doors of the
cabinet.

This centre piece was carved into the form of an Indian temple, with
cupolas and towers of raised work; and in front of the temple door there
sat the figure of a solemn looking Indian priest.

Of all Grace's toy friends this priest was the oldest and dearest, and
as she looked at him now, the tears began to gather in her eyes at the
thought of parting with him. And no wonder. He was really a most
delightful little old man. His long beard was made of hair-like silver
wire, the whites of his eyes were little specks of inlaid ivory, and in
his hand he balanced a small bar of solid gold, which did duty as the
latch of the cabinet doors.

Grace gazed at the priest long and lovingly, and at last, shuffling a
little nearer to the cabinet, she whispered: "I don't like saying
'good-bye' a bit. I wish you needn't go away. Don't you think you might
stay after all if you liked, and help mother to get well in some other
way? You belong to a magic cabinet, so I suppose you are a magic priest,
and can do all sorts of wonderful things if you choose."

The priest nodded gravely.

Then, of course, Grace gave a sudden jump, and started away from the
cabinet with a rather frightened look on her face.

It was one thing to talk to this little carved wooden figure in play,
and make believe that he was a real live magic priest, but it was quite
another to find him nodding at her.

She felt very puzzled, but seeing that the figure was sitting quite
still in front of the temple, she drew close up to the cabinet again,
and presently she whispered: "Did you nod at me just now?"

The ebony priest bowed his head almost to the ground.

There could be no doubt about it this time. He was a magic priest after
all. Grace did not feel frightened any more. A joyful hope began to
swell in her heart, and she said, "Oh, I'm so glad! You won't go away
and leave us, will you?"

For a moment the figure sat motionless, and then the head gave a most
decided shake, wagging the silver beard from side to side.

"What a dear old darling you are," exclaimed Grace in delight. "But you
know how ill poor mother is, and how much she wants nice things to make
her strong. You will have to get them for her, if you stay, you know."

Again the priest nodded gravely.

"It isn't a very easy thing to do," said Grace, holding up a warning
finger. "My father is ever such a clever man, and he can't always manage
it. Why, he has written a great big book, all on long sheets of
paper--piles, and _piles_, and PILES of them, and even that hasn't done
it! I shouldn't think you could write a book."

The figure of the priest sat perfectly still, and as she talked Grace
thought that the expression on his face grew more solemn than ever, and
even a little cross, so she hastened to say, "Don't be offended, please.
I didn't mean to be rude. I know you must be very magic indeed, or you
couldn't nod your head so beautifully. But do you really think you can
get mother everything the doctor has ordered?"

A fourth time the priest nodded, and this time he did it more
emphatically than ever.

Little Grace clapped her hands softly.

"Oh! _do_ begin at once, there's a dear," she whispered coaxingly.

Very slowly, as if his joints were stiff, the priest raised his arms,
and allowed the golden bar in his hands to revolve in a half-circle; and
then the Indian temple split right down the middle, and the two doors of
the Magic Cabinet swung wide open.

Grace lost sight of the little priest, and the temple, and all the other
wonderful carvings as the folding doors rolled back on their hinges; and
she gazed into the cabinet, wondering what would happen next. She had
often seen the inside of the cabinet, so, beautiful as it was, it was
not new to her, and she felt a little disappointed. Half of the space
was filled up by tiny drawers and cupboards, all covered with thin
sheets of mother-of-pearl, glowing with soft and delicate tints of pink
and blue; but the other half was quite unoccupied, and so highly
polished was the ebony, that the open space looked to Grace like a
square-cut cave of shiny black marble.

For some moments the little girl sat quite still, gazing into the depths
of the cabinet; but as nothing happened she got upon her feet, and,
drawing a step nearer, put her head and half her body inside the open
space. Everything looked very dark in there, and she felt more
disappointed than ever; but, just as she was about to draw out her head
again, she noticed a shining speck in one of the top corners at the
back of the cabinet. This was not the first time she had seen it, and
she had always determined to look at it closer; but the cabinet stood on
carved feet, like the claws of an alligator, and Grace's outstretched
hand could not quite reach the back. But now the cabinet might be going
away she felt that she must delay no longer, so she quickly crossed the
floor and fetched the highest hassock from under the table, and planted
it in front of the dark opening. Getting upon this, she climbed right
into the open space, and a moment later she was sitting on the ebony
floor of the Magic Cabinet.

It was rather a tight squeeze; but Grace did not mind that in the least:
she drew her feet close in under her, and laughed with glee. Now she
could see the shining speck plainly. It was only a tiny bright spot in
the centre of a tarnished metal knob. The knob was an ugly,
uninteresting-looking thing, and it was fixed so high up in the dark
corner that she would never have noticed it if it had not been for the
bright speck in the centre.

Wondering what the knob could be for, Grace gave it a sharp pull; but
she could not move it. Next she pushed it; and then----

Bang!

The folding doors fell to with a slam, everything became suddenly dark,
and Grace found herself shut inside the Magic Cabinet. Just for an
instant she felt too startled to move; but when she recovered from her
surprise, instead of trying to open the doors of the cabinet, she felt
for the little metal knob again, and then pushed at it with all her
might.

First there was a sharp snap, like the turning of a lock; and then she
heard a harsh, grating sound, as the back of the cabinet slid slowly
aside and revealed--what do you think?

The wall of the room behind? A secret cupboard?

No, neither of these.

Directly the back of the cabinet moved aside a sudden and brilliant
flash of light dazzled Grace's eyes, and she was obliged to cover them
with her hands. But it was not long before she began to peep between
her fingers, and then she almost cried out for joy.

It seemed that a scene of fairyland had been spread out before her, but
not in a picture, for everything she saw looked as real as it was
beautiful. Grace found that she was no longer sitting in a dark and
narrow cabinet, but on the top step of a marble stairway, which led down
to a lake of clear and shining water. This lake, on which numbers of
snowy swans swam in and out among the lily beds, stretched out far and
wide, and on its banks, among flower-decked trees and shrubs, stately
palaces and temples were built, whose gilded domes and marble terraces
glistened brightly in the sunshine.

All this Grace took in with one delighted glance, but it was as quickly
forgotten in a new and greater surprise that awaited her.

Gently but swiftly over the surface of the shining lake there glided a
wonderful boat which glimmered with a pearly lustre, and as the breeze,
filling its sails of purple silk, brought it closer to the steps, Grace
gave a glad cry and sprang to her feet. A tall, white-bearded man, who
stood in the prow of the boat, waved a long golden wand over his head,
and Grace clapped her hands in glee.

"It's my dear, dear Indian priest off the door of the cabinet," she
cried. "But how tall and beautiful he has grown!"

Before she could say another word the boat of pearl sailed up alongside
the bottom marble step, and the old man beckoned to her to come down.
She needed no second bidding, but ran lightly down the stairs and sprang
into his outstretched arms.

"What a dear, good magic priest you are to come," she said, as he put
her into a cosy place on some cushions at the bottom of the boat. "And
what a lovely place this is! Do you live here?"

"Sometimes," answered the old man, with a grave smile.

"Oh, of course; I forgot. You live on the door of the Magic Cabinet
sometimes. You have been there quite a long time. Ever since I can
remember anything you have sat in front of the little carved temple.
Don't you find it dull there sometimes?"

"How do you know I don't go away while you are asleep?"

"I never thought of that," said Grace. "But please tell me, where is the
Magic Cabinet now?"

The old priest was busy attending to the sails of the boat, which was
now shooting swiftly away from the shore; but at the question he looked
up and pointed towards the top of the steps with his golden wand.

Grace looked and saw a lovely little temple built of inlaid coloured
marbles.

"Is that really the back of our dear old black cabinet?" she cried. "How
pretty it is! I wonder why we have never found it out."

"Everything has two sides," said the old man, "and one is always more
beautiful than the other; and, strange to say, the best side is
generally hidden. It can always be found if people wish for it; but as a
rule they don't care to take the trouble."

Grace looked very earnestly into the priest's face while he spoke; and
after he had finished she was so long silent that at last he asked,
"What are you thinking about?"

"I was thinking about your face," she answered. "You won't think me
rude, will you?"

"No, certainly not."

"Well, of course, you are just my dear old Indian priest, with the
strange, dark face and nice white beard, exactly like I have always
known you, only ever so much bigger and taller; and I'm sure that long
wand is much finer than the little gold bar you generally hold; but I
can't help thinking you are just a little like my mother's Uncle Jacob,
who left us the Magic Cabinet. I have often looked at him in the album,
and your eyes have a look in them like his. You don't mind, do you?"

"Not at all," answered the old man, smiling kindly; and then he went
back to the sails again, because the boat was nearing a little island.

"Are we going to get out here?" asked Grace.

"Yes; you want me to do something for you, don't you?" And then,
without waiting for an answer, he pulled some silken cords, which folded
up the purple sails like the wings of a resting-bird, and the boat
grounded gently, and without the slightest shock, on a mossy bank.

Taking the little girl in his arms, the old man sprang ashore. Bright
flowers and ripe fruits grew in abundance on this fairy-like island, and
birds of gorgeous plumage flew hither and thither, filling the sunny air
with music.

But the old priest did not seem to notice any of these things. He led
Grace by the hand up the mossy bank, and through a thicket of flowering
shrubs into a glade, in the centre of which he halted and said, "Now,
what is it to be?"

"Oh, I can't choose," said Grace, looking eagerly up into his face. "You
know I want mother to be quite well; and I don't want you or the Magic
Cabinet to go away from us. But I don't know what you had better do.
Please, please, do whatever you like; I know it will be nice."

The old priest smiled, and struck the ground with his golden wand. Then
there was such a noise that Grace had to cover up both her ears; and at
the same time, out of the ground, at a little distance, there rose a
great red-brick house, with queer twisted chimneys and overhanging
gable-ends.

Grace stared with astonishment from the house to the gravely-smiling
priest; and at last she cried, "Why, it is our dear old home where we
used to live before we got so poor! I must be asleep and dreaming."

"Well, and if you are, don't you like the dream?" asked her old friend.

"Yes, yes, it's a beautiful dream; it can't be true," said Grace; and
then she added quickly, "May we go into the house?"

"Yes, if you like," he answered; and he took her by the hand, and led
her up the steps and through the doorway.


II.

UNCLE JACOB'S GIFT.


When Grace passed through the doorway of the red-brick house, which the
old priest had raised in such a magical fashion out of the ground, she
looked eagerly round the hall, and then clapped her hands and cried,
"Why, I do believe everything is here just as it used to be. I don't
remember all these beautiful pictures and things; but mother and father
have often told me about them. Oh, I wish they could be here to see!"

Her guide did not answer, but still holding her by the hand, he led her
into a spacious room. It was so pretty that it almost took Grace's
breath away. The softness of the carpets, the colours of the curtains
and other drapery, the glittering mirrors on the walls, everything she
saw was new and wonderful to her, and seemed like nothing so much as a
story out of the "Arabian Nights."

But before she could do anything more than give one little gasp of
delight, the old Indian priest at her side waved his golden wand.

Then a curtain which hung before a doorway at a little distance was
suddenly looped up, and, with a light step, Grace's mother, looking rosy
and well, came into the room.

Grace gave the old man's hand a hard squeeze, but although she had a
great longing to run straight into her mother's arms, some strange
feeling held her back. After feasting her eyes for a moment on her
mother's bright and happy face, she whispered, "Where's father?"

Again the wonderful golden wand was raised, and then the curtain which
had fallen into its place before the doorway was pushed hastily aside,
and Grace saw her father.

All traces of sorrow and care had left his face; he held his head high,
his eyes shone with a glad light, and in his hands he carried a large
book bound in white and gold.

As he entered the room, Mrs. Goodman turned, and with a little cry of
joy went to meet him. Then an expression came into her father's face
which Grace could not understand, as silently, and with bowed head, he
gave the beautiful book into his wife's hands.

"At last!" cried Grace's mother, taking it from him, and her voice was
broken by a sob, while the tears gathered in her eyes; but still Grace
could see that she was very happy.

Grace was very happy, too, and she could scarcely take her eyes from her
father and mother when she heard the voice of the Indian priest speaking
to her.

"Is there anything more you would like?" the old man asked.

"Oh, how kind and good you are!" cried Grace, squeezing his hand harder
than ever; "and how ungrateful I am to forget all about you. You have
chosen the loveliest things."

"But don't you want anything for yourself?" asked her strange friend.
"You may choose anything you like."

Grace looked all round the big room, and it seemed so full of pretty
things that at first she could not think of anything to wish for; but
suddenly she gave a little jump and cried: "The Magic Cabinet! It isn't
here; and I would like to have it, please."

The old man looked grave; but he answered at once: "You have chosen, so
you must have it; for in this country a choice is too serious a thing to
be taken back. If you don't like it you must make the best of it. But
you know you can't be at both sides of the cabinet at one and the same
time. Come with me."

Grace felt a little uncomfortable as the old man led her quickly across
the room and through the curtained doorway by which her father and
mother had entered.

Directly the curtain fell behind them she found that they were in the
dark; and, although she still held her friend's hand, she began to be
afraid.

"Oh, whatever is going to happen? I can't see anything at all!" she
cried.

"I am going to wave my golden wand," answered the slow and solemn voice
of the Indian priest.

As he spoke there was a vivid flash of light. Little Grace gave a
violent start, and rubbed her eyes; and then--and then she burst into
tears.

For what do you think that sudden flash of light had shown her?

It had shown her that she was back again in the shabby little home she
had known so long; that her mother, pale and ill as ever, was just
awakening from her sleep; that her father had returned and was lighting
the lamp; that the little carved figure of the Indian priest was sitting
motionless before the temple on the doors of the Magic Cabinet; and,
showing her all this, it also showed her that she had been fast asleep
and dreaming.

It was too hard to bear. To think that the wonderful power of the magic
priest, the beautiful fairy-like country, the dear old home, her
mother's health and happiness, and her father's book,--to think that all
these delightful things were only parts of a strange dream was a
terrible disappointment to Grace, and she cried as if her heart would
break.

"Why, darling," said her father, crossing the room and lifting up the
little girl in his strong arms, "is it as bad as all that? Can't you
bear to part with the old cabinet, even for mother's sake?"

"It's--it's not that," sobbed Grace, hiding her face on his shoulder.
"I--I wish we could keep the cabinet; but it's not that. It's my dream."

"Your dream, dear? Well, come and tell mother and me all about it."

Mr. Goodman sat down in a chair beside his wife, and when she could
control her sobs, Grace told them the whole story of her strange journey
to the other side of the Magic Cabinet.

When she had finished her father said: "Well, darling, it was a very
pleasant dream while it lasted; but beautiful things can't last for ever
any more than ugly ones. It is no wonder that you should have had such
a dream after all our talk about Uncle Jacob's fancies, and the Buddhist
priest, and the good fortune that was supposed to come to the owners of
the Magic Cabinet."

"Yes, I'm not surprised about all that, especially as Grace has always
made-believe about that funny little priest," said Mrs. Goodman; "but I
can't think what set her dreaming about a knob inside the cabinet."

"Oh, that's not only a dream," cried Grace. "I have often seen the
little knob, and I have pushed it and pulled it, but I can never make it
move."

"Why didn't you tell us about it? I'm sure I have never seen it," said
her mother.

"Come and show it to me now," said Mr. Goodman, putting Grace off his
knee, and taking the lamp from the table.

Grace, followed by her mother and father, crossed over to the corner in
which the Magic Cabinet stood. The lamp was placed on a chair just in
front of it; and then Grace, with rather a reproachful glance at the
figure of the Indian priest, twisted round the little gold bar, and
opened the two ebony doors.

"There!" cried Grace, stooping down, "I can just see the knob; but you
can't get low enough. You can feel it, though, if you put your hand into
this corner."

Guided by the direction in which her finger pointed, Mr. Goodman thrust
his hand right back into the darkest corner of the cabinet; and
presently he said, "Yes, I can certainly feel something hard and round
like a little button. But I can't move it."

As he spoke he pulled at the little knob with a force that shook the
cabinet in its place.

"Push it, father!" cried Grace eagerly. "That's what I did in my dream."

Mr. Goodman obeyed, and instantly there was a low musical "twang," like
that caused by the striking of a Jew's harp, or the quick vibration of a
piece of watch-spring; a sharp click followed, and something was heard
to fall on to the ebony floor of the cabinet.

Mrs. Goodman held the light closer, and in a moment her husband said,
"Here is a little secret door hinged down to the bottom of the cabinet.
The knob must have been fixed to a spring, and in pressing it I have
released the catch of the door, which has fallen flat, leaving a small
square opening."

"Is there anything inside?" asked Grace, in a hurried, excited whisper.

"Let me see," said her father, thrusting in his hand again. "Ah, yes! A
little drawer!"

A moment later he stood upright, holding a tiny drawer of sweet-smelling
sandal-wood in his hand.

"Come along to the table," he said; "we will soon see if there is
anything nice inside."

Although it was evident that he was trying to speak carelessly, there
was a strange eagerness in his manner; and as Mrs. Goodman set the lamp
on the table, the light revealed a spot of bright colour on each of her
pale cheeks; and as for Grace, she was in raptures.

"I know--I _know_ it's something beautiful," she cried; "and I believe
my priest is a magic priest after all."

They all three gathered round the light, and Mr. Goodman laid the little
secret drawer on the table.

The drawer seemed to be quite full, but its contents were completely
covered by a neatly-folded piece of Indian silk. This was quickly
removed; and under it there lay an ivory box of delicate workmanship. It
fitted closely into the drawer, and Mr. Goodman lifted it out with great
care. On opening the lid he revealed a second box; and this was so
beautiful that it drew exclamations of delight from both Grace and her
mother. The inner box was made of gold, and it was covered with fruit
and flowers and birds, all wrought in wonderful _repoussé_ work.

There was some difficulty in finding how this golden box was to be
opened; but a little examination brought to light a secret spring, and
at the first pressure the lid of the box flew back and the central
treasure of the Magic Cabinet was exposed to view.

Grace gave a cry of disappointment, for, lying in a snug little nest of
pink cotton-wool, she saw only a dull, ugly-looking stone.

Mrs. Goodman did not speak, but looked earnestly at her husband as he
took the stone from its resting-place and held it close under the light.
He took a glass from his pocket and examined it carefully for a moment,
and then laid it back in the golden box again, and said, "It is a
diamond, and, I believe, a very valuable one."

"But it isn't a bit pretty and sparkly like the diamonds in the shop
windows," said Grace. "What is the good of it?"

"It is a wonderful magic gift," answered her father. "All that money can
do for us, this dull-looking stone can do. It can buy all the things
mother needs to make her strong and well."

"And it can print father's book, and make us all as happy as we were in
your dream," said her mother.

Mr. Goodman now took the little sandal-wood drawer in his hand again,
and, under another piece of Indian silk, he found a letter.

"My dear, this is for you," he said; "and see--surely this must be your
Uncle Jacob's writing?"

Mrs. Goodman took the envelope from his hand, and read the inscription,
which was written in strange, angular characters:

     "TO MY NIECE."

Her hand shook a little as she broke the seal and drew out a small sheet
of paper covered closely with the same writing, and her voice was
unsteady as she read the old man's letter aloud.

     "My dear Niece,--When my will is read you may be surprised
     to find that I have left you only one gift--my old Indian
     cabinet. But I value it very highly, and I believe that for
     my sake you will never willingly part with it. I am rich,
     and if you needed money I could leave you plenty; but you
     have enough and to spare at present, and I hope you will
     never know the want of it. But still, I mean to make one
     slight provision for you. Authors are not always good men
     of business, and your husband may lose his money; and
     however great and good his book may be, it may be rejected
     by the world, and you may some day be poor. I shall place
     an uncut diamond of some value in the secret drawer of the
     old cabinet, hoping that you may find it in a time of need.
     You may wonder why I trust to such a chance; but some wise
     man has said that _all chance is direction which we cannot
     see_, and I believe he is right, so I shall follow my whim.
     If you should discover the secret at a time when you are
     not in need of money, keep the gem uncut as a wonderful
     work of nature; there are not many like it in the world.
     But if the money it can bring you will be useful, do not
     hesitate to sell it; it will fetch a high price. In any
     case, accept it as the last gift of your affectionate

     "UNCLE JACOB."

There was silence in the little room for a few moments after Uncle
Jacob's letter had been read. Mr. Goodman led his wife back to her
chair, and Grace stood solemnly waiting for somebody to speak.

At last her father looked at her with a bright smile.

"We must be very thankful to Uncle Jacob for his gift," he said; "but we
mustn't forget that it was your wonderful dream which led us to the
discovery."

"I can't help thinking that my dear Indian priest had something to do
with it. You know he is a magic one; and he did look something like
Uncle Jacob in my dream, you know."

Her mother and father smiled; and Mr. Goodman rose briskly and said, "I
must make haste and tell the man he needn't come to look at the
cabinet."

"Oh, father," cried Grace, who was feeling a little puzzled, "won't it
have to go away, after all?"

"No, my child," he answered; "mother will be able to get well without
losing it now. We shall keep the Magic Cabinet."

"There, I thought my Indian priest wouldn't tell a story. I asked him
to promise not to go away and leave us, and he shook his hand most
beautifully."

Mr. Goodman bent down and kissed her; and then he left the room, and
Grace, after taking a peep at her little Indian priest, ran and threw
her arms lovingly round her mother's neck.

       *       *       *       *       *

Uncle Jacob's gift was the means of making Grace's dream come true in a
wonderful way. First of all her mother got well and the roses came back
into her cheeks again; and then, instead of going on a magic journey
through the back of the cabinet, the father and mother and their little
girl went into the country, which was quite as beautiful, if not so
strange, as the island in the shining lake. A little later the dear old
red-brick home was bought again, and they all went to live there; Mr.
Goodman's book was published, and it was bound in white and gold, just
as Grace had seen it in her dream. And after it had been examined and
admired, at Grace's suggestion it was put away under the watchful care
of the little Indian priest in the Magic Cabinet.



GIRLHOOD AND YOUTH.



ONLY TIM.

BY SARAH DOUDNEY.


CHAPTER I.


"I say, Bee, are you coming?"

Claude Molyneux, in all the glory of fourteen summers and a suit of new
white flannels, stands looking up with a slight frown of impatience at
an open bay-window. It has been one of the hottest of August days; and
now at four o'clock in the afternoon the haze of heat hangs over the
sea, and makes a purple cloud of the distant coast. But, for all that,
it is splendid weather; just the kind of weather that a boy likes when
he comes to spend his holidays at the seaside; and Claude, who is an
Indian-born boy, has no objection to a good hot summer.

As he stands, hands in pockets, on the narrow pebbled path under the
window, you cannot help admiring the grace of his slim, well-knit
figure, and the delicate moulding of his features. The fair skin is
sun-tanned, as a boy's skin ought to be; the eyes, large and
heavy-lidded, are of a dark grey, not brilliant, but soft; the light,
fine hair is cropped close to the shapely head. He is a lad that one
likes at the first glance; and although one sees, all too plainly, that
those chiselled lips can take a disdainful curl sometimes, one knows
instinctively that they may always be trusted to tell the simple truth.
Anything mean, anything sneaky, could not live in the steady light of
those dark-grey eyes.

"I say, Bee-e!" he sings out again, with a little drawl, which, however,
does not make the tone less imperative. Master Claude is not accustomed
to be kept waiting, and is beginning to think himself rather badly used.

"Coming," cries a sweet treble; and then a head and shoulders appear
above the row of scarlet geraniums on the window-sill.

She is worth waiting for, this loitering Bee, whose thirteen years have
given her none of the airs of premature womanhood. Her smooth round
cheeks are tinted with the tender pink of the shell; her great eyes, of
speedwell blue, are opened frankly and fearlessly on the whole world.
Taken singly, not one of her features is, perhaps, quite faultless; but
it would be hard to find a critic who could quarrel with the small face,
framed in waves of ruddy golden hair that go tumbling down below her
waist. You can see a freckle or two on the sides of her little nose, and
notice that her slender hands are browned by the sea-side sun; for Bee
is one of those lucky girls who are permitted to dabble freely in
salt-water, and get all the benefit that briny breezes can bestow.

"I couldn't come sooner," she says in a tone of apology. "We always have
to learn a hymn on Saturdays, and I've had _such_ a bother with Dolly.
She _would_ want to know where 'the scoffer's seat' was, and if it had a
cushion? And it does so worry me to try to explain."

"Oh, you poor thing--you must be quite worn out!" responds Claude, with
genuine sympathy. "But make haste; you haven't got your hat on yet."

Bee makes a little dive, and brings up a wide-brimmed sailor's hat with
a blue ribbon round it. She puts it on, fastens it securely under the
silken masses of her hair, and then declares herself to be quite ready.

In the next instant the girl and boy are walking side by side along the
shore, near enough to the sea to hear the soft rush of the tide. The
blue eyes are turned inquiringly on Claude's face, which is just a shade
graver than it ought to be on this delightful do-nothing day.

"Bee," he says after a silence, "I don't quite approve of your being
great friends with Crooke--Tim Crooke. What a name it is! He may be a
good sort of fellow, but he's not in our set at all, you know."

"He _is_ a good sort of fellow," she answers. "There's no doubt about
that. Aunt Hetty likes him very much. And he's clever, Claude; he can do
ever so many things."

"I dare say he can," says Mr. Molyneux, throwing back his head and
quickening his pace. "But you needn't have got so _very_ intimate. We
could have done very well without him to-day."

"He's Mr. Carey's pupil," remarks Bee quietly. "Aunt Hetty couldn't
invite Mr. Carey and leave out Tim."

"Well, we could have been jolly enough without Mr. Carey. It's a
mistake, I think, to see too much of this Tim Crooke; he isn't a
gentleman, and he oughtn't to expect us to notice him particularly."

"He doesn't expect anything; we like him; he's our friend." The soft
pink deepens on Bee's cheeks, and her ripe lips quiver a little. She
loves Claude with all her heart, and thinks him the king of boys; but,
for all that, she won't let him be unjust if she can help it.

Claude tramps on over sand, and pebbles, and seaweed, with lips firmly
compressed and eyes gazing steadily before him. Bee, as she glances at
him, knows quite well what Claude feels when he looks as if his features
had got frozen into marble. And she knows, too, that he will be
painfully, frigidly, exasperatingly polite to her all the evening.

Matters cannot go on like this, she says to herself in desperation.
Claude arrived only yesterday, and here they are beginning his holiday
with a dreadful disagreement. She has been counting the days that must
pass before she sees him; writing him little letters full of sweet
child-love and longing; wearing a pinafore over her newest frock, that
it may be kept fresh and pretty for his critical eyes. And now he is
here, walking by her side; and she has offended him.

Is it Heaven or the instincts of her own innocent little heart that
teach this girl tact and wisdom? She doesn't proceed to inspire Claude
with a maddening desire to punch Tim's head, by recounting a long
catalogue of Mr. Crooke's perfections, as a more experienced person
would probably have done. But she draws a shade closer to her companion,
and presently he finds a tiny brown hand upon his white flannel sleeve.

"You dear old Empey," she says lovingly, "I've been wanting you for, oh,
_such_ a long time!"

The frozen face thaws; the dark grey eyes shine softly. "Empey" is her
pet name for him, an abbreviation of "Emperor;" and he likes to hear her
say it.

"And I've wanted you, old chap," he answers, putting his arm round the
brown-holland waist.

"Empey, we always do get on well together, don't we?"

"Of course we do,"--with a squeeze.

"Then, just to please me, won't you be a little kind to poor Tim? He's
not a splendid fellow like you, and he knows he never will be. I do so
want you to forget that he's a nobody. We are all so much more
comfortable when we don't remember things of that sort. You're not
angry, Empey?"

"Angry; no, you silly old thing!"

And then she knows, without any more words, that he will grant her
request.

The little boat that Claude has hired is waiting for them at the
landing-place, and Bee steps into it with the lightest of hearts. Aunt
Hetty and the rest will follow in a larger boat; but Mr. Molyneux has
resolved to row Miss Beatrice Jocelyn himself.

He rows as he does everything, easily and gracefully, and Bee watches
him with happy blue eyes as they go gliding over the warm sea. How still
it is to-day! Beyond the grey rocks and yellow sands they can see the
golden harvest fields full of standing sheaves, and still farther away
there are low hills faintly outlined through the hot mist. The little
town, with its irregularly-built terraces, looks dazzlingly white in
the sunshine; but the church, standing on high ground, lifts a red spire
into the hazy blue.

"I could live on the sea!" says Bee ecstatically. "You don't know what
it costs me to come out of a boat; I always want this lovely gliding
feeling to go on for ever. Don't you?"

"I like it awfully," he replies; "but then there are other things that
I want to do by-and-by. I mean to try my hand at tiger-shooting when I
go out to the governor."

"But, oh, Empey, it'll be a long time before you have to go out to
India!"

Her red mouth drops a little at the corners, and her dimples become
invisible. He looks at her with a gleam of mischief in his lazy eyes.

"What do you call a long time?" he asks. "Just a year or two, that's
nothing. Never mind, Bee, you'll get on very well without me."

"Oh, Empey!"

The great blue eyes glisten; and Claude is penitent in an instant.

"You ridiculous old chap!" he says gaily. "Haven't you been told
thousands of times that my dad is your guardian, and as good as a father
to you? And do you suppose that I'd go to India and leave you behind?
You're coming too, you know, and you'll sit perched up on the back of an
elephant to see me shoot tigers. What a time we'll have out there, Bee!"

"Do you really mean it?" she cries, with a rapturous face; blue eyes
shining like sapphires, cheeks aglow with the richest rose.

"Of course I do. It was all arranged, years ago, by our two governors; I
thought Aunt Hetty had told you. But I say, Bee, when the time _does_
come, I hope you won't make a fuss about leaving England!"

"Not a bit of it," she says sturdily. "I shall like to see the Ganges,
and the big water-lilies, and the alligators. But what's to become of
Dolly?"

"I don't know; I suppose she'll have to stay with Aunt Hetty. You belong
to _us_, you see, old girl; so you and I shall never be parted."

"No, never be parted," she echoes, looking out across the calm waters
with eyes full of innocent joy.


CHAPTER II.


As soon as the boat grates on the shallows, two small bare-legged
urchins rush forward to help Miss Jocelyn to land. But Bee, active and
fearless, needs no aid at all, and reaches the pebbled beach with a
light spring.

"Is tea nearly ready, Bob?" she asks, addressing the elder lad, who
grins with delight from ear to ear.

"Yes, miss."

"And has your mother got an immense lobster, and a big crab, and heaps
of prawns?"

"Yes, miss; whoppers, all of 'em."

"That's right; the sea does give us such appetites, doesn't it, Empey? I
hope the others will be here soon."

"If they don't make haste they'll find only the shell of the lobster,"
he answers, joining her on the shore. "I shall never be able to control
myself if I take one look at him!"

"Then don't look at him, greedy!" she cries, clapping her hands, and
dancing round and round him, while the fisherman's children stare at her
wonderful golden locks. "I didn't forget your weakness for lobster; Aunt
Hetty said I might arrange it all; and we shall have a splendid tea!"

He looks at her with his quiet smile, half amused, wholly loving.

"Don't be whirling like a Dervish, and making yourself too hot to eat
anything," he says, putting a stop to her evolutions. "Let's saunter
along the beach, and sit down a bit, my Queen Bee."

It is a bright, glistening beach, strewn with many-coloured pebbles and
stones, brown, yellow, purple, crimson, and snow-white; there are empty
shells in abundance, out of which charming pincushions can be
constructed by skilful fingers; and, best of all, there are little heaps
of delicate sea-weed, capable of being pressed out into tiny tree-like
forms of coral-pink. Altogether, this strip of shore is a very treasury
for children, and Bee can never come here without wanting to load her
own pockets and everybody else's with heavy spoils.

Claude, who has already been presented with seven shell pincushions, a
polished pebble, and three copy-books filled with gummed sea-weed, does
not care to add to this valuable collection of marine treasures. He
arrests the little hand that is making a grasp at a clam, and says
persuasively, "Stop till we come here again, Bee; don't pick up things
this afternoon. It's so jolly to loaf about and do nothing, you know."

She obeys, after casting one regretful glance at that fascinating
scalloped shell; and they stroll on in placid contentment. From this
part of the coast they get a wide ocean outlook, and can gaze far away
to the faint sea-line dissolving into the sky.

How calm it is! Beautiful, infinite sea, suggesting thoughts of voyages
into unknown climes; of delightful secrets, yet unfathomed; of that
enchanting "by-and-by" which is the children's Promised Land! The boy
and girl are quiet for a time, dreaming their tranquil little dreams in
the silence of utter satisfaction, while the waves wash the beach with
the old lulling sound, and the rock-shadows are slowly lengthening on
the sand.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Drake, the fisherman's wife, is busy with her
preparations indoors. The cottage stands in a sheltered nook, a wooden
dwelling, coated with tar, with nets hanging outside its walls, and a
doorstep as white as snow. A few hardy geraniums in pots brighten the
windows, but garden there is and can be none; the pebbly shore must
serve the children as a playground. Rosy cheeks and sound lungs give
proof that the little Drakes are thriving in their seaside home; and the
youngest, a baby of two, lies placidly sucking its thumb on the sunny
beach.

The boat containing Aunt Hetty and her party nears the landing, and just
for one second Claude's brow darkens again. A sturdy lad is pulling
strong strokes, with arms that seem almost as strong as Drake's; and the
lad has a merry brown face and black curly hair, and wears a scarlet cap
set jauntily on his head. It is Tim Crooke, looking provokingly at his
ease among his aristocratic friends, and quite prepared to enjoy
himself.

Aunt Hetty, gentlest and kindest of elderly ladies, is assisted to land
by the clergyman; while Tim takes up Dolly in his strong arms and places
her safely on the shore. And then they all make for the cottage, Bee
lingering in the rear with Claude, and winning him back to good-humour
with a pleading look from the sunny blue eyes.

Surely this tea in the fisherman's kitchen is a banquet fit for the
gods! It is a happy, hungry group that gathers round the deal table;
Bee, doing the honours, pours out tea, and has a great deal of business
on her hands; Aunt Hetty, at the other end of the board, keeps anxious
watch over Dolly, who consumes prawns with frightful rapidity; Tim
Crooke beams on everybody and ministers to the wants of everybody, like
the good-natured fellow that he is. And Claude, true to his unuttered
promise, is kind to Tim in a pleasant, natural way.

At length the meal comes to an end; lobster, prawns, and crab are all
demolished! and the last drop is drained out of the teapot. The party
stroll out of doors, and revel in the cool of the evening air.

How is it that they begin to talk about heroes and heroism? Nobody can
remember afterwards who started the subject; but certain it is that all,
save Dolly, become interested in the conversation, and each has a word
to say. Mr. Carey, the clergyman, is the leading talker; and he talks
well, not priggishly, nor prosily, but speaks the right words in the
right way, and wins the attention of his companions.

"Charles Kingsley has told us," he says, "'that true heroism must
involve self-sacrifice;' it is the highest form of moral beauty. And
it's a good thing when girls and boys fall to thinking about heroes and
heroines; the thinking begets longing to do likewise. What was it that
you were saying last night about your favourite hero, Tim?"

Tim lifts his head, and a rush of colour comes suddenly into his brown
face.

"Jim Bludso is the fellow I like," he says, speaking quickly. "Wasn't it
grand of him to hold the bow of the _Prairie Belle_ against the bank,
while she was burning? The passengers all got off, you know, before the
smoke-stacks fell; only Bludso's life was lost. He let himself be burnt
to save the rest."

"It _was_ grand!" murmurs Bee, drawing a long breath.

"Yes," says Claude, bringing out his words slowly; "but I like Bert
Harte's 'Flynn of Virginia' better still. You see, it was Jim Bludso's
own fault that the steamer caught fire. Nothing would stop him from
running a race with the _Movestar_; and so the _Prairie Belle_ came
tearing along the Mississippi--

    "'With a nigger squat on her safety-valve,
    And her furnace crammed, rosin and pine!'

Jolly fun it must have been, but anybody could have foretold the end. As
to Flynn, he was working on the Central Pacific Railway with his mate, a
married man, when they found the whole concern giving way. And Flynn set
his back against the wall in the dark drift, and held the timbers that
were ready to fall, and sang out to Jake to run for his wife's sake."

"Oh, that was beautiful!" Bee sighs, with her blue eyes full of tears.
"Flynn was only Flynn, wasn't he? But Jake had got somebody who couldn't
live without him."

"That was just what Flynn felt, he was only Flynn," Claude replies,
pleased that his hero is appreciated. "There was something splendidly
deliberate in his self-sacrifice, don't you think so, sir?" he adds,
turning to Mr. Carey.

"You are quite right," Mr. Carey answers thoughtfully.

Dolly comes running up to the group with shrill cries showing a little
live crab in her small palm. A faint breeze is blowing off the sea, the
west grows golden, and Aunt Hetty rises from her seat on the beach.

"We must be going home now," she says. "Claude, dear boy, will you look
for my shawl?"

Claude obediently goes into the cottage to bring out the wraps; Mr.
Carey hastens off to summon Drake; and Tim finds himself, for a few
seconds, by Bee's side.

"Hasn't it been a lovely afternoon?" she says. "I've been so happy,
haven't you? Oh, Tim, Claude has told me something!"

"Is it a secret?" Tim asks.

"No, he didn't say so. He says it was arranged years ago that he is to
take me out to India, by-and-by. I'm so glad, Tim; I'd go anywhere with
Claude."

The golden glow that shines on Tim's face seems to dazzle him, and he
turns his head away from the speaker.

"I'm glad that you are glad, Bee," he says quietly. And that is all.


CHAPTER III.


Sunday morning dawns, hot and still, but clearer than the day before.
Aunt Hetty and her nieces are sitting in the bay-windowed room, which
has the usual furniture of seaside lodgings. They have just gone through
their morning readings, and are ready to begin breakfast when Claude
comes downstairs.

"How is the wrist, dear boy?" Aunt Hetty asks tenderly.

In jumping out of the boat last night he has managed to get a sprain,
but is disposed to treat the matter lightly.

"Oh, it will soon be well, thanks," he says, taking his place, and
giving a smile to Bee.

A little later they all set out for church, and Bee and Claude attract
many an admiring glance as they walk together along the terraces. She
wears her new frock, of some soft creamy stuff, and a quaint "granny"
bonnet of ivory satin lined with pale blue; her short skirts display
silk stockings and dainty little shoes of patent leather. Aunt Hetty,
her tall thin figure draped with black lace, follows with Dolly, that
little witch of eight years old, who is the pet and plague of the good
lady's life. Other seaside visitors look after the party from Nelson
Lodge, and discuss them freely among themselves; but they do not speak
from personal knowledge of Lady Henrietta Jocelyn and her charges. All
they know is that Lady Henrietta is the maiden aunt of the two girls,
and that they were committed to her care by her brother who died in
India.

The church is large, recently built, and smells strongly of mortar and
varnish. In winter Mr. Carey has to preach to a scanty congregation; but
in summer, when the lodging-houses are full, there is always a goodly
number of worshippers.

The Jocelyns, whose home is in town, are accustomed to attend St.
George's, Hanover Square, and never feel perfectly comfortable in this
seaside church, which is, as Bee says, "so dreadfully new, and so
unfurnished." She wishes they could all worship out of doors, among the
rocks, with the blue sea murmuring near them; and yet she likes to hear
Tim's voice, as he stands among the other surpliced boys and leads the
singing.

Not that Tim is by any means an ideal chorister. His surplice makes his
brown skin look browner, and his curly head blacker than ever; and there
is not a heavenly expression in his quick dark eyes. He is not in the
least like one of those saintly boys we read of sometimes, who sing and
lift their glances upward, and pass gently and speedily away from this
wicked world. Judging from Tim's robust appearance he has many a year of
earthly life before him, and many a hot battle to fight with the flesh
and the devil.

But it is a marvellous voice that comes from the lad's massive throat; a
voice that goes up like a lark's song, carrying heavy hearts to higher
regions with its notes. In future days there are some who will remember
that morning's anthem, which Tim sings with all his triumphant power and
thrilling sweetness. A few fishermen, standing just within the doors,
listen entranced, and one rugged old fellow puts up a hard hand to hide
his eyes.

"The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their
voice; the floods lift up their waves.

"The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than
the mighty waves of the sea.

"Thy testimonies are very sure; holiness becometh Thine house, O Lord,
for ever."

The service comes to an end, and Aunt Hetty and her children walk
homeward along the terraces, under a glaring sun. The sea is still calm,
but a light breeze is stirring, creeping off the water and breathing
across the hot sand and shingle. Bee gives a deep sigh of satisfaction
as the zephyr kisses her rosy cheeks.

"It's going to be just a little cooler, Empey," she says, as they draw
near Nelson Lodge.

"Yes; it must be jolly on the sea to-day," he remarks, following a
little cutter with longing eyes.

When the midday meal is ended, Aunt Hetty repairs to the sofa to read
Jeremy Taylor; and Dolly, having discovered an illustrated copy of the
"Pilgrim's Progress," is silently gloating over a picture of Apollyon,
dragon-winged, with smoke coming out of his nostrils. For fifteen or
twenty minutes Claude and Bee whisper by the open window, and then a
gentle sound from the sofa tells them that good Jeremy has lulled Aunt
Hetty to repose.

Claude gives Bee an expressive glance which plainly says, "Come along."
Dolly's back is turned towards them; moreover, she has just lighted upon
a whole family of fiends, and cannot take her eyes off the book. So the
pair slip out of the room unheard and unseen, and gain the beach without
let or hindrance.

They shun the pier, and foot it briskly along the shore till they have
left most of the promenaders behind. On and on they go till they get to
the low rocks, and the smooth yellow sands strewn with mussel and cockle
shells; and then they sit down to rest, and listen to the music of the
tide.

"You must take me to White Cove one day, Empey," says Bee, after a
pause. "There are the most lovely shells to be found there, and agates,
and things. Mr. Carey said that somebody once picked up a bit of amber
there."

"I could row you there at once," returns Claude, "if it wasn't for this
wrist of mine."

"Oh, but it's Sunday; Aunt Hetty wouldn't like us to go."

"She wouldn't mind it if I reasoned with her," responds Mr. Molyneux
with perfect confidence in his own powers of argument. "All those little
prejudices of hers could soon be got rid of."

"Drake says it's rather dangerous near White Cove," observes Bee after
another silence; "because of all the sunken rocks, you know."

"No, I don't know: I've never been there. But you've set me longing to
see the place, old chap."

"Oh, it's lovely!" she cries, with enthusiasm. "Thousands and thousands
of sea-birds sit on the cliffs; and there are lots of little caves, all
hung with silky green sea-weeds, so quiet and cool."

Claude leans back against the low rock behind him, and looks out across
the sea with eyes half-closed. The horizon line is sharp and clear
to-day; the blue of the sky meets, but does not mingle with the deeper
blue of the ocean; a few white sails can be distinctly seen. Now and
then a gull flashes silvery wings in the sunshine, and its cry comes
wailing across the water to the shore.

"Why, there's Tim!" says Bee, pointing to a broad-shouldered figure
moving leisurely along the sand.

He hears the well-known voice, and turns instantly.

"Well, he may make himself useful to-day," remarks Claude, with a sudden
inspiration. "I daresay he'll be glad enough to row to the cove if we
ask him."

Tim is more than glad, he is delighted to be included in the plans of
Claude and Bee. To tell the truth, Sunday afternoon is generally rather
a lonesome time to Tim Crooke. He has no vocation for Sunday-school
teaching, and always feels intensely grateful to Mr. Carey for not
bothering him to take a class. The little vicarage is, however, a dreary
house when master and servants are out; and Tim is usually to be found
wandering on the shore till the hour for tea.

"Bill Drake is down yonder," says Tim, waving his hand towards a block
of stone some distance off. "And he's got a little boat, a battered old
thing, but----"

"Any old thing will do," interrupts Claude, rising eagerly. "We are not
going to show off in front of the pier, you know; we only want to get
away to White Cove and enjoy ourselves. Do you know the place, Crooke?"

"Yes, very well. I've been there several times with Mr. Carey; it's a
wonderful place for gulls. I suppose there are thousands of them."

"Well, come along," cries Claude; and Bee springs gladly to her feet. It
delights her to see the magnificent Empey growing so friendly with that
good old Tim, and as she trips on, leaving dainty footprints on the
sands, her mind is busy with plans for the coming days. "This is only
the beginning of pleasures," she says to herself; the holidays will last
a long time, and they can enjoy many excursions about the coast. It is
all going to be perfectly jolly, now that Claude has really consented to
accept Tim; for Tim is so good-natured and useful that she hardly knows
what they would do without him.

The little boat is a battered old thing indeed, but nobody is inclined
to find fault with it. Bill Drake is quite ready to let the young
gentleman have his way; Bee steps in lightly enough, and seats herself;
the lads follow, and then Tim pushes off, leaving Bill standing grinning
on the shore.

A happy girl is Bee Jocelyn as the boat glides on, and the fresh air
fans her face. She has put on her broad-brimmed hat again; and the light
breeze lifts her bright silky tresses, and spreads them round her head
like a golden veil. She dips one little hand in the water--the beautiful
sunny water that is as green as an emerald when you look deep into its
depths; and then she trails her fingers in the sea and smiles at Claude.

"Oh, Empey," she says, "how nice it would be if one of Undine's
sea-relations were to put a coral necklace, all red and glittering, into
my hand!"

"Or some strings of pearls," suggests Tim.

"She will have a set of pearls one day," remarks Claude, in that quiet
tone of his. "They were my mother's, and they are waiting in India for
Bee."

There is an unwonted softness in Tim's black eyes. He is a
stout-hearted, matter-of-fact lad, people say, not given to dreaming;
and yet he is seeing visions this afternoon. He sees Bee, not in her
sailor's hat and girlish frock, but in white robes, with all her wealth
of hair plaited up, and the pearls glistening on her neck. He sees the
merry face grown graver, yet lovelier than ever; and then he tries to
picture her home in that far-off land that he will never behold; a land
of dark faces, and temples, and palms, and flowers.

And Claude will be with her always; what a beautiful poetical life these
two will live together! All the poetry is for them, and all the prose
for Tim. His thoughts don't shape themselves into these very words,
perhaps; but he does certainly feel that it is a dull path which lies
before Tim Crooke.

While he dreams, he pulls as steadily as usual, and they are drawing
nearer and nearer to the little cove. Soon they gain a full view of
those cliffs where the sea-birds sit, tier upon tier, like spectators in
a circus, and the calm air is filled with strange cries. Bee claps her
hands in delight; the sight is so novel, and the birds that have taken
wing sweep so gracefully around their rocky haunts, that there is a
charm, past explaining, in the whole scene.

Meanwhile the tide is rising fast and floats the boat onward to White
Cove. They are making for a landing-place just at the foot of the
sea-birds' cliff, and Tim pulls cautiously, telling Claude to keep a
sharp look-out for the rocks that lie treacherously hiding under the
flood.

"There's the Chair!" cries Bee suddenly. "Look, Empey, we are quite
close to it! It was Mr. Carey who gave it that name, because you see
it's exactly like a chair, and it has a seat, and a little ledge where
your feet may rest. Mr. Carey got up there once; it's quite easy to
climb."

"At high water the tide comes almost up to the footstool of the Chair,"
says Tim. "I've noticed it standing up out of the sea with a bird or two
perched on its seat. It looks very funny then, when all the rocks near
it are quite covered."

"It really is curious," Claude is beginning to say, when there is a bump
and a terrible grating noise. The boat has struck against one of those
traitorous rocks, and her rotten planks have given way. Long before they
can reach the landing-place she will be full of water; there is already
a stream flowing in through the rent in her side, and Tim, quiet and
cool, takes in every detail of the case before Claude has begun fully to
realise their condition. Without a moment's hesitation he pulls straight
towards the little strip of sand that is to be seen at the base of the
Chair.

"Quick, Claude," he says in decided tones, "the wind is rising, and the
tide is coming in fast. You must get Bee up into the Chair, and you'll
have to follow her; although there's hardly room for two."

"Do you mean that we shall have to stay up there till the tide goes
out?" asks Claude. "Why, it's absurd! Is there no other way to----"

"There _is_ no other way to save your lives, so far as I can see. Now
don't lose time; the Chair isn't so easy to climb, after all. There are
little dents in the rock where your toes may go, but no projections
anywhere. It's just a smooth block of stone."

Poor Bee, who knows that Tim must have good reasons for being serious,
tries to obey him without delay. But how could she ever have fancied
that this dreadful rock was easy to climb! It is nearly as slippery as
glass, and affords so little hold for hands or feet that she is almost
in despair. The boys encourage her with their voices; Claude is
scrambling up after her--not without difficulty, however, for his
sprained wrist gives him many a sharp twinge. And then at last, after
terrible efforts, the "footstool" ledge is gained, and Bee drags herself
up to the seat of the chair.

But what a seat it is! Merely a niche which looks as if it had been
scooped out of the solid stone and furnished with a narrow shelf. How
will it be possible for her to make herself very small, and leave space
for Claude?

Even in these fearful moments she finds herself thinking of the eleven
swan princes in the fairy tale, and that little rock in mid ocean on
which they stood crowded together when the sun went down. Claude is
here, squeezed into the narrow niche by her side, and he is calling out
to Tim, down below.

"Come up, Tim," he cries, and there is a ring of agony in his voice now.

But Tim's answer reaches them, clear and loud, above the roar of the
advancing tide.

"I shall not come; there isn't room for three. You know that well
enough."

"But, Tim, what will you do? I'll come down, and give you my place."

"Stay where you are," Tim shouts sternly. "You've got Bee to take care
of. And there's a heavy sea rolling in, she'll have to sit fast."

As Tim speaks the flood is surging up to his knees, and the wind, too,
is rising higher and higher. All around him the waves are foaming over
the sunken rocks, and the sea-thunder grows louder and more terrible
every moment.

"I'll come down," cries Claude, making a desperate movement to descend.
"You sha'n't stop there and drown alone! Do you think I'll be such a
hound as to let you?"

But Bee with all her strength, holds him back. "Empey, _dear_ Empey,"
she moans, "stay for my sake!"

"I'll take my chance," Tim sings out cheerily. "I can swim; I mean to
try for the landing-place."

"You're mad; the tide will dash you on the rocks!" groans Claude, in
despair. And then, so slight is his foothold that he nearly loses his
balance in looking downward; and Bee, clinging to him, screams with
terror.

"I can't bear it!" he says wildly.

How fast the waters rise! Great waves are breaking against the sides of
the Chair, and leaping up nearer and nearer to the ledge whereon the
pair support their feet. Once more Claude calls to Tim, passionately,
almost fiercely,--

"I'll never forgive myself if you are lost! Tim, Tim, where are you?"

And the clear voice comes up, somewhat faintly, from below. "It's all
right. God bless you and Bee."

A mighty billow flings its cloud of foam over the faces of Claude and
the shrinking girl by his side, and blinds them with salt spray. But
high as the tide is, the Chair is still above its reach, and although
the wave may sprinkle them, it cannot swallow them up. Only they are
deafened as well as blinded, and Bee feels that she is losing her
senses. Surely her brain is wandering, else she could never hear the
notes of the anthem again, and Tim's voice singing the words of the old
psalm in such exulting tones,--

"The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than
the mighty waves of the sea."

       *       *       *       *       *

When night is closing over the little watering-place there are
rejoicings and lamentations in Nelson Lodge. Aunt Hetty's heart is full
of gratitude; Claude and Bee brought safely home by old Drake, have
fallen asleep at last in their rooms, while she steals from chamber to
chamber to look first at one tired young face and then at the other. But
the tears hang on Claude's lashes as he sleeps; and more than once Bee
moves restlessly on her pillow and murmurs Tim's name.

The wind, that has been blowing hard all through the night, subsides
soon after sunrise. Clouds clear away from the east, and the golden
morning shines upon the creamy cliffs of White Cove. Just at the foot of
one of the low rocks lies Tim; his brown face turned up to the sky, and
his curly hair matted with sea-weed. His life-work is done.

Only Tim;--yes, Master Claude; but what would the world be without such
souls as Tim's? Fine manners, fine speech, and fine clothes, of these he
had none, but he had what glorifies the earth's greatest sons, he had
what the angels rank highly and what God loves, a brave, true, unselfish
heart.



SMITH'S SISTER.

_A STORY BY A BOY ABOUT A GIRL._

BY ROBERT OVERTON.


Before I tell you the story about Smith's sister in particular (said
Stanislaus Yarrow), I wish to make a few remarks about sisters in
general.

Sisters are of two kinds--your own and other fellows'. There are
boys--especially older ones--who consider their own sisters worse than
other fellows' sisters.

("Hear, hear," cried Martin Abbott, who was strongly suspected of having
fallen in love with Dr. Audlem's maiden aunt, who was not much more than
forty).

But the general opinion amongst boys is that all sisters--all girls, in
fact--are muffs and nuisances.

("So they are," agreed a number of voices cordially).

I thought so myself once. But Smith's sister taught me to take a higher
view of girls. I admit that they have defects--they can't help 'em.
There are times when I doubt if even boys are perfect. I freely admit
that there is a certain amount of idiocy in the ways and manners of
girls in general. Far be it from me to deny that they squeak and squeal
when there is no occasion for squeaking and squealing. There is no use
in denying that they are afraid of mice. Even Smith's sister visibly
shuddered when I offered to give her my biggest piebald rat, to be her
very own for ever. But we ought to be charitable and try to overlook
these things, for, as I said just now, they can't help 'em.

What I insist upon is that there's real grit in girls all the same.
This is how I work it out: Smith's sister was a brick--Smith's sister is
a girl--therefore, as one girl can be a brick, so can other girls, other
sisters, be bricks.

Now for my true yarn. To separate the circumstances of the story from
the story itself, I will first give you the circumstances.

Smith and I lived next door to each other, and were close chums,
especially at intervals. He was a very generous chap--he'd give a friend
anything he'd got. When he was laid low with illness last summer, I
slipped into his bedroom by way of the verandah, to have a look at him,
and he gave me the scarlet fever. He was such a very generous chap that
he never wanted to keep anything all to himself. The fever stayed with
both of us as long as it could, and left us a good deal weaker than it
found us. Finding us both in need of a long and thorough change, Smith's
father and mine put their heads together, and finally decided to send us
to North Wales for the rest of the summer and the autumn. The idea was
promptly carried out.

They didn't, strictly speaking, "send" us, for they came with us. In
fact, it was quite a carriage-ful of us that steamed away north-west
from Paddington--namely, Smith, myself, Smith's father and mother, my
father and mother, a number of boxes, portmanteaux, and parcels, and
Smith's sister. I put her last because at the time she was last in my
estimation.

We had a lovely journey, to a lovely little out-of-the-way and
out-of-the-world station, which was spelt with all consonants, and
pronounced with three sneezes, a cough and two gasps. From the station
we had a long drive to the remote farmhouse in which our fathers had
taken apartments.

In this delicious old farmhouse we soon made ourselves--Smith and
I--quite at home. It was in a beautiful valley. Tremendous hills rose
all round it. On the very tops of some of the mountains there was snow
almost all the year round. Glens, and brooks, and streams, and
waterfalls simply abounded.

After a fortnight our two fathers had to return to London, leaving
behind them our mothers, us, and Smith's sister.

Oh, what a time we had then! Smith shot me by accident in the leg with
the farmer's gun--Smith himself got almost drowned in two different
streams, and was once carried over a waterfall, and dashed against the
stones. On all three occasions he was getting black in the face when
pulled out. I fell down a precipice in the mountains, and was rescued
with the greatest difficulty. On another occasion a neighbouring farmer
caught us trespassing, and thrashed us with a stick till he was too
tired to hold it any longer. Smith got bitten by a dog supposed to be
mad, and a horse kicked me in the stomach.

All was gaiety and excitement. Ah! when shall we have such times again?
We made inquiries as to whether we were likely to catch scarlet fever a
second time.

Now Smith's sister screamed at our accidents; she was afraid to join us
in any of our adventures. She was as old as myself, and only a year
younger than Smith, but as timid as a chicken--or so we thought her, for
so she seemed. We tried at first to encourage her, to bring her out a
little; but it was no good--we just had to leave her to herself.

"She hasn't pluck enough to come with us," Smith used to say as we set
off on our rambles--"let her stop at home and play with the fowls."

You must understand that we didn't dislike her--we simply despised her.
I think contempt is worse than dislike--at all events, it is harder to
bear. Week after week passed away, till at length the end of September
approached. In a few days we were to go home again.

Now high as all the hills were, there was one that towered above the
others. From the very first, Smith and I had been warned not to attempt
to scale this monarch of the mountains, whose crown was sometimes
visible, sometimes hidden in the clouds. Being warned not to do it, we
naturally wanted to do it. We had made, in fact, several tries, but had
always been frustrated. Once or twice Mr. Griffiths--the farmer at
whose house we were staying--caught us starting, and turned us back.

"Up towards the top of that mountain," he said, on the last occasion,
"is a place so difficult of access, except by one way, that it is called
the 'Eagles' Home.' Lives have been lost there. The hill is
dangerous--the clefts are steep and deep. Leave it alone. There are
plenty of other hills to climb that are not so dangerous."

That reference to the Eagles' Home was more than we could stand. We
could make out the very spot he meant. Fancy being up there with the
eagles near the sky--fancy birds-nesting in the clouds!

"Yarrow," said Smith firmly, "we must do it."

"Or perish in the attempt," I agreed recklessly, quoting from a book I'd
read.

What we meant was, of course, that before our visit ended we must climb
that hill, at all events as high as the Eagles' Home.

Our approaching return to London left us with no time to lose. We had
only four clear days before us.

"We'll make the ascent immediately after dinner to-morrow," said Smith.

"Right you are," replied I.

The next day arrived. Dinner was always over soon after one at the
farmhouse, and by two o'clock, having slipped quietly and secretly off,
we were beginning our climb up the hillside. For more than an hour we
made slow but easy progress, taking a rest every now and then for a
minute or two. We must have got up a considerable distance, but neither
the mountain-top nor the Eagles' Home seemed much nearer. On and up we
trudged, walking faster and determined to take no more rests. We noticed
how much colder it was, and cast uneasy glances at the dipping sun.

We met a shepherd going down, and stopped him to ask some questions. He
told us that there was an easy way and a hard way to reach the Eagles'
Home. The easy way was to follow the path worn up the hill to the left.
That would take us _above_ the spot. Still following the path as it
curved round to the right, we should find a comparatively easy way down
to the "home of the eagles," unless we lost the road, and tumbled down
one of the many steep declivities.

"Which was the hard way?" we asked.

With a smile, he pointed straight up the mountain-side. It wasn't far
that way, he said--only that way would take us farther than we wanted to
go. We looked up the frowning pathless mountain--and knew what he meant.
We must take the safer and longer way.

"Not that we're _afraid_ of the other," said Smith.

"Of course not," I replied.

In vain the shepherd tried to dissuade us from going any further in the
failing light: in vain he told us of the dangers we should run. We
thanked him, put him off with some excuse about going "a little"
further, and turned resolutely on up the "path" he had pointed us to. It
was by no means the sort of path we were accustomed to.

On and on and on--I don't know how far we went. But the farther we went
the more silent we became. Each knew the other knew that he was getting
more and more uneasy at every step. Each knew the other wasn't going to
be the first to admit that he was funky.

It grew so awfully cold. It became so awfully dark.

"The moon will be up by-and-by," Smith said.

"Yes," said I; "we shall be all right then. What's this?"

It was too dark to see it, but we felt it in our faces. We put our hands
on our sleeves and felt it there.

Snow!

We both gave in then, and funked it without disguise. We turned to go
down, to get home. We tried at first to disbelieve it, but it wasn't
long before we both gave up the pretence.

"We're lost!" we cried together.

That was just our position. In the cold, dark night, in the midst of a
rapidly-rising storm and fast-falling snow, we were lost on the wild
Welsh mountains.

We stumbled about. For a long time--I don't know how long, but it was a
long time--we stumbled about. That is the only expression I can use, for
soon we didn't know whether we were moving up or down, left or right. We
were so numbed, so bewildered. It was so cold up there, though October
had not yet set in, that we had a vague idea that if we didn't keep on
moving we should be frozen still, meeting the fate of many other
mountaineers.

You must bear in mind that we had nothing to eat, nothing to drink, and
only our summer clothes on. Neither of us had a watch, so we could only
judge what the time was. Smith's hope that the moon would soon rise
hadn't been realised, for everything above was as dark and black as
everything was beneath.

At last a frightful thing happened. Our feet slipped at the same moment,
and the next moment we were both falling through space. My previous slip
down a precipice was nothing compared with that awful fall in the
darkness. Only one thing saved us. Before we struck the ground, we
managed to break the full force of our fall by grasping the roots and
branches of some low-growing shrubs and bushes which we felt without
seeing. We slipped then less rapidly from hold to hold, until, with a
thud, we struck the earth. It seemed more like the earth striking us.

Smith gave a loud scream of pain--then all was silent.

Smith fainted. I cried. Smith recovered and cried. I left off crying,
and took his turn at fainting. There's nothing like telling the truth.
We both prayed. I won't tell you about that, because praying is a thing
to _do_, not to talk about.

We didn't move about any more. That fall proved that moving about was
too dangerous. Poor old Smith _couldn't_ move. He couldn't even stand
up. He tried to once and sank down again with a yell. He had sprained
his ankle.

Please imagine for a moment that this adventure is being played on the
stage, and let the curtain fall. Now imagine the curtain raised again.

In the meantime, the storm has died down. The winds are not howling
now, the snow is not falling. The heavens above us are not so black we
can see parts of the mountain that drops from our feet into the deep
invisible valley below. We can see enough to make out where we are. We
are in the Eagles' Home. Our ambition has been realised--but in what a
way! We reached the spot neither by the pathway nor up the rugged
steep--we rolled from the top; we came through the air with the
snowflakes.

Pretty snowflakes! Smith is hopelessly crippled, and I--the other
snowflake--am simply a living collection of bumps and bruises. We must
spend the rest of the bleak night strung up on this dizzy height. We
must wait till the morning--if we can live through the night.

What's that, down there--far away down there?

A light! a number of lights. They're moving--moving up. They've reached
the spot where we met the shepherd who told us of the two ways.

They've stopped. Hark! What's that?

A shout--a hail--loud and long continued, as though a lot of people are
calling together.

Hurrah! We're saved. The farmer has turned out a rescue party to find
and save us. Hurrah!

Gathering all my strength--all I have left--I answer the hail. Smith
joins me as well as he can. Once, twice, thrice we shout. We catch the
distant cry that tells us we have been heard.

For a minute the lights are stationary. Then--their bearers sending up
another great hail as though to tell us they know where we are and are
coming--we see the lanterns flashing forward up the track which leads
above our heads, and then round to the Eagles' Home. Mr. Griffiths, who
knows the hills as well as he knows his own farm lands, has told them
where we are from the direction of our frantic voices.

So cheer up, Smith--they're coming.

But they'll be such a long time coming--and we're so cold and numbed.
Smith is fainting again. So am I, I'm afraid--you must remember I am
knocked about. It will be such a long time before the coming help
reaches us.

Will it? Then what's that solitary light stealing up the jagged steep
below us? Who is it coming to us by the "hard" way, straight up the
precipitous mountain-side? It must be Griffiths--he's crawling up the
rough boulders--he's clinging hold of roots and branches, swinging
himself over the clefts. The shepherd said it couldn't be done--but
Griffiths is doing it. How torn his hands must be!

I can't be quite fainting, because I can see that Griffiths' lantern is
coming nearer and nearer.

Listen! I can hear his voice--only it sounds such a weak voice. That is
because I am getting so weak now myself, though I manage to call back,
that Griffiths may know just where we are....

Griffiths has reached us. Griffiths is attending to poor old Smith. Now
he's got his arm round me. Griffiths is pouring a cordial down my throat
that brings life back into me. I can feel my heart beating again. I'm
better now. I'll shake Griffiths by the hand. I dare say I shall
by-and-by. But this is the hand of SMITH'S SISTER!


The strain of this theatrical style, and of the present tense, is more
than I can stand any longer, so I hope it is quite clear to you what had
happened. Just a few words to sum up.

When the rescue party formed by Mr. Griffiths--as soon as it was obvious
that Smith and I had lost ourselves--set out, Smith's sister set out
with them. Griffiths ordered her back. She went back, collared a lantern
and a flask all to herself (in view of the party separating--what a
thoughtful girl!), followed and rejoined them. When they stopped and
halloaed to find whereabouts we were, he ordered her back again, but not
until she had heard the hasty consultation which resulted in the party
sticking to the safer way to us. She heard about the "two ways," and she
dared the one that everybody else was afraid of. The ascent up the
mountain's face was suggested, but only Smith's sister had the pluck to
make it. This was the girl we had scorned and laughed at. This was the
girl whom we had told to stop at home and play with the chickens!

About an hour after she reached us with the "first help" that may have
saved our lives, we saw the lights of Griffith's party on the crest
above us. We exchanged shouts, and they let down a rope at once, and
hauled us up. Long before this, Smith's sister had bound up his injured
ankle neatly and lightly with her own handkerchief and our
handkerchiefs.

You should have seen the farmer's face--and, indeed, the faces of all
the others too--when they realised how she had reached us.

It is all very well for her to say that she didn't know what she was
doing--that she couldn't have done in the light what she did in the
dark. All I am concerned with is the fact that she did do what I have
told you she did.

Referring to the proposition I laid down soon after I started--about
there being real grit in girls after all--you will understand what I
meant when I wind up my yarn with the familiar quotation, Q. E. D.



THE COLONEL'S BOY.

BY H. HERVEY.


Marjorie had never got on well with her brother's guardian. He was a
bachelor, stern and autocratic, and with no admiration for woman's ways,
and she instinctively felt that he did not understand her.

His love for Miles Weyburne, the son of a brother officer who had fallen
in a skirmish with an Indian frontier tribe thirteen years ago, was a
thing recognised and beyond question.

Even at the age of ten the boy's likeness to his father had been
remarkable. He had the same dark, earnest eyes, the same frank, winning
manner, the same eager enthusiasm; he was soon to develop, to the secret
pride of his guardian, the same keen interest in his profession, with a
soundness of judgment and a fearless self-reliance peculiarly his own.

He had gained his star after scarcely a year's service, and had then got
an exchange into his guardian's regiment.

Colonel Alleson held the command of a midland regimental district. He
had the reputation of being somewhat of a martinet, and was not
altogether popular with his men.

Marjorie generally spent her holidays with her aunt in the town, and the
Colonel occasionally went to see her; but he was nervous and
constrained, with little to say for himself, and Marjorie always did her
best to show to a disadvantage when he was there. "He's such a crabby
old thing," she would say, when Miles grew enthusiastic over the grave,
taciturn officer,--"besides, he hates girls, you know he does, and I'm
not going to knuckle under to him." Her brother had explained that the
Colonel's ideas were old-fashioned, so she sometimes talked slang on
purpose to shock him. She listened to his abrupt, awkward sentences with
a half listless, half criticising air. She was a typical school-girl at
the most characteristic age,--quick to resent, impatient of control,
straightforward almost to rudeness. The Colonel might be a father to her
brother--he never could be to her. She often thought about her father
and mentally contrasted the two: she thought, too, though less often, of
the mother who had died the very day that that father had fallen in
action, when she herself was little more than a year old.

Miles had been spending his leave with his aunt, and the day before his
return to Ireland to rejoin the battalion, he biked over to the barracks
in company with his sister to say good-bye to his guardian.

"I suppose this is another of the Colonel's fads," Marjorie remarked,
glancing at the notice board as she got off her bicycle outside the
gates. "What an old fuss he is, Miles."

"Has he been giving you a lesson in manners?"

"Not he." She tossed back her wavy, golden-brown hair as she spoke. "I
should like to see him try it on."

Miles gave a short little laugh.

"He got into an awful rage the other day because somebody came through
here on a bicycle. How are you to read the notice all that way off?"

Miles was not listening to her. Hearing the sound of wheels, he had
turned round and caught sight of the Colonel's dog-cart. Marjorie
glanced mischievously at him, and just as the Colonel entered the
gateway, she deliberately mounted her bicycle and rode through before
his eyes. There was just room for her to pass. The Colonel reined in,
and looked sternly round. "Stop!" he said. Marjorie obeyed. Wheeling her
bicycle forward, she said in her politest manner:

"I beg your pardon. Did you want me?"

"This is quite contrary to regulations."

"Yes, I know," she answered, looking straight at him. "I read the
notice, but I don't see the sense of it."

There were one or two soldiers standing near, and they exchanged glances
and smiled. Miles coloured up with shame and vexation. The Colonel gave
the reins to his groom and got down without another word. He held out
his hand to Miles as the dog-cart passed on.

"I want to speak to you," he said shortly, and he walked on in front of
them.

"I hope I shall see you again, Miles," he began, as they ascended the
steps leading to his quarters. "I have only a few minutes to spare now.
Come up this evening, will you?"

"Yes, Colonel."

Marjorie moved towards the door. The colour mounted to her cheeks as the
Colonel stepped forward to open it for her. Miles, feeling that he ought
to say something, waited behind a minute.

"I'm sorry about--about this," he said. "I don't understand it."

"I do, perfectly--well, good-bye, my boy."

His grave, stern face softened wonderfully as he grasped Miles' hand.

"What an old crosspatch he is," began Marjorie as her brother came up
with her. "I daren't for the life of me ride through there again. Did
you see, Miles, he was quite white with rage when I cheeked him? Those
Tommies thought it awful sport."

"What a little ass you are," said Miles crossly, "to make all that row
before the men."

Marjorie looked away. "It served him jolly well right," she said,
pedalling faster.

They rode home the rest of the way in silence.


Miles was away with his battalion at the front, and Marjorie was
spending a fortnight of the Christmas holidays with a school friend at
Eastbourne. The two girls were hurrying down the esplanade together one
bright, frosty morning in January when Marjorie suddenly found herself
face to face with the Colonel. His eyes were bent down, and he passed
without recognising her. With a few hurried words to her chum, she ran
after him.

"How do you do, Colonel? I didn't know you were here."

He started as she addressed him. "I only came yesterday," he said; "I
have got a few days' leave."

"Did you hear from Miles last mail? I did."

"Yes. He has been very regular so far."

"You must miss him awfully. Are you going this way?"

"Yes."

"Then I'll come a little way with you, if I may; I wanted to say
something."

Putting her hands into her jacket pockets, she looked very gravely at
him.

"I am sorry I was rude that day I came into the Barracks," she said
hurriedly. "I have been thinking about it. It was horrid of me, when the
soldiers were there. Will you forgive me?"

"Certainly," he said nervously, putting his hands behind him, and
walking faster.

"You see, I want to be friends with you," she added frankly, "because of
Miles. He thinks such a lot of you--the dear boy; good-bye."

Her dark eyes, generally so mocking and mischievous, had grown suddenly
earnest, and his heart warmed towards her, as he held out his hand.

"Good-bye, Marjorie," he said, "you are very much alike, you and Miles."

"Are we?" she said simply, flushing a little. "I didn't know. I am
glad."

She walked back to her chum with a beating heart. "He's not so bad," she
said to herself. "I wish he liked girls."


Spion Kop had been abandoned, and the British Army was in orderly
retreat, when Miles found himself cut off with the remnant of his
company, by the enemy. The death of his captain had left him in command,
and realising his responsibility, he made up his mind to act promptly.
"We are cut off, men," he explained briefly to his soldiers; "will you
hoist the white flag, or trust to me to bring you through?"

"No surrender, and we stand by you, sir," answered the serjeant major
gruffly. "Is it agreed, boys?"

There was a general assent.

It was a gallant deed, that desperate dash to rejoin the division,
though accomplished at a terrible cost. Miles, leading the forlorn hope,
was soon to pay the price of his daring. They were all but through when
he fell, shot by a chance bullet.

An hour later his battered troops came up with the British forces. Three
or four stragglers dropped into camp as the serjeant major was making
his report.

"Ah!" said the colonel, expressively--"you got through?"

"Yes, sir, beastly hard work, too."

"Who brought you?"

"Lieutenant Weyburne, sir."

"I thought so. He's the kind of fellow for that sort of thing. Is he
in?"

"He was shot, sir."

"Shot, poor boy. What will Alleson say?"


It was Wednesday morning, and the entire strength of the Depôt had
turned out on parade. The Colonel, tall and dignified in the faultless
neatness of undress uniform, was standing in his characteristic
attitude, with his hands behind him and his head thrown slightly back.
His blue eyes looked out, grave and watchful, from under the peak of his
fatigue cap, and the tense interlocking of his gloved fingers was the
only sign of his mental unrest.

Yet the vision of Miles was before him--Miles bold, earnest,
high-spirited, Miles in the full joy of life and strength, with the
light of affection in his eyes; Miles again with his boyish face white
and drawn and his active young form still in death.

He had loved the boy, his boy as he always called him, more even than he
had realised, and life seemed very blank without the hope of seeing him
again.

It was two days since his name had appeared in the lists of killed and
wounded, and that afternoon the Colonel went down to see Marjorie, who
had returned from Eastbourne a few days before. She looked unusually
pale when she came into the room, and though she ran forward eagerly
enough to greet him, her eyes were tearful and her lips quivering, as
she put her hand into his.

"I thought of writing to you"--began the Colonel nervously, "but----"

"I'm glad you came," said Marjorie, "very glad. I shouldn't mind so much
if we knew just how he died," she added sorrowfully.

"We know how he would face death, Marjorie!"

She put her arms on the table, and hid her face with a stifled sob.

"He was your boy, and you'll miss him so," she went on. "There's no one
like him, no one half so dear or half so brave. If I were only a boy I
might try to be like him and make you happy--but I can't, it's no use."

She was looking up at him with those dark eyes of hers, just as his boy
had looked at him when he said good-bye three months ago, and he could
not trust himself to speak.

"I suppose you get used to things," she said with a sigh.

The Colonel put his hand on her head. "Poor child," he said in a husky
voice, "don't think about me."

"Miles loved you," she answered softly, going up close to him. "I'm his
sister. Let me love you, too."

He drew her to him in a tender fatherly manner, that brought instant
comfort to her aching, wilful little heart.

"Your father was my friend, Marjorie," he said,--"the staunchest friend
man ever had. I have often wondered why we failed to understand each
other."

"You don't like girls," said Marjorie, "that's why."

The Colonel smiled grimly.

"I didn't," he said. "Perhaps I have changed my mind."


Lord Roberts had entered Pretoria, and the Colonel sat in his quarters
looking through the list of released prisoners. All at once he gave a
start, glanced hastily around, and then looked back again. About half
way down the list of officers, he read:

"Lieut. M. Weyburne (reported killed at Spion Kop)."

Miles was alive: there had been some mistake. The bugle sounded. It was
a quarter past nine. He walked out on to the parade-ground with his
usual firm step, smiling as he went. Miles was alive. He could have
dashed down the barrack-square like a bugler-boy in the lightness of his
heart.

People who met him that day hastened to congratulate him. He said very
little, but looked years younger.

Three weeks later there came a letter from Miles, explaining how he had
been left upon the ground for dead, and on coming to himself, had fallen
unarmed into the hands of the Boers. He had never fully recovered from
his wounds, and by the doctor's orders had been invalided home, so that
his guardian might expect him about ten days after receiving his letter.

It was a happy home-coming. The Colonel went down to Southampton to meet
him, and when he reached his aunt's house he found a letter from
Marjorie awaiting him. "The Colonel's a dear," she wrote; "I understand
now why you think such a lot of him."

Miles turned with a smile to his guardian.

"You and Marjorie are friends at last, Colonel," he said.

"Yes, my boy," he returned gravely; "we know each other better now."



'TWIXT LIFE AND DEATH.

_A MANX STORY._

BY CLUCAS JOUGHIN.


PART I.


Deborah Shimmin was neither tall nor fair, and yet Nature had been kind
to her in many ways. She had wonderful eyes--large, dark, and full of
mute eloquence--and if her mouth was too large, her nose too irregular,
and her cheeks too much tanned by rude health, and by exposure to the
sun as the village gossips said, I, Henry Kinnish, poetic dreamer, and
amateur sculptor, thought she had a symmetry of form and a grace of
movement which wrought her whole being into harmony and made her a
perfect example of beauty with a plain face; and every one knew that
Andrew, the young village blacksmith and rural postman, loved her with
all the might of his big, brawny soul.

These two ideas of Deborah's beauty and Andrew's love for her, were
revealed to me one day when, with Deborah's master, his lumbering sons
and comely daughters, and my chum Fred Harcourt, an artist from "across
the water," we were cutting some early grass in May, just before the
full bloom of the gorse had begun to fade from the hillsides and from
the tops of the hedges where it had made borders of gold for the green
of the fields all the spring.

A soft west wind, which blew in from the sea, made waves along the uncut
grass to windward of the mowers, and played around the skirts of
Deborah, making them flutter about her, while the exertion of the
haymaking occasionally let loose her long, strong black hair.

But the face of Deborah was sad; for the village policeman had laid a
charge against her before his chief to make her account for her
possession of a large number of seagulls' eggs, to take which the law of
the Island had made a punishable offence, by an act of Tynwald passed to
protect the sea fowl from extinction.

The eggs, all fresh, and newly taken from the nests, had been found on
Deborah's dressing-table; but Deborah indignantly denied all knowledge
of the means by which they had got there. There was a mystery about it
to every one, for fresh clutches were seen there every morning, and the
innocent Deborah made no attempt to conceal them. Where, then, could
they come from but from some nests of the colony of seagulls which lived
in the haughs that dropped down into the sea from Rhaby Hills? But no
woman, young or old, could climb the craigs where the gulls had their
nests. It was a feat of daring only performed by reckless boys and young
men who were reared on the littoral, and who were strong and spirited
craigsmen by inheritance and by familiarity with the dangerous sport of
egg-collecting among the giddy heights of precipices on which, if they
took but one false step, they might be hurled to certain destruction
below.

When the mowers had made all but the last swath, and there were only a
few more rucks of the early hay to be made in the field, Cubbin, the
rural constable, came in from the highroad with Andrew, the smith. The
hot and sweated mowers did not stop the swing of their scythes, but they
talked loudly amongst themselves in imprecations against the new law
which made it a criminal offence for a lad to take a few gull's eggs,
which they, and their fathers before them, had gone sporting after in
the good old times when men did what they thought right.

The bronzed face of Deborah Shimmin paled, her lips set into a resolve
of courage when she saw Andrew in the hands of the police; and I learnt
for the first time that Andrew was looked upon as the robber and Deborah
as the receiver of the stolen eggs. I saw more than this, I saw, by one
look, that the heart of Deborah and the heart of the tall, lithe lad,
who now stood before me, were as one heart in love and in determination
to stand by each other in the coming trial.

The big hands of the young smith were thrust into his pockets, and a
smile played over his honest face; but Deborah looked at the constable
with a hard, defiant look, and then bent over her work again as if
waiting to hear him say something dreadful which she was resolved to
throw back into his face, though her hand trembled as she held the fork,
which moved now faster and stronger than before.

But Cubbin was a man of the gospel of peace though he was an officer of
the law, and he only looked sadly on the face of Deborah as he asked her
whether it would not be better for her to say where she got her supply
of eggs from than allow him to get a summons against Andrew.

"I have told you before that Andrew never gave me the eggs!" cried the
girl, her face flushed with the crimson setting of the sun, "and I don't
know where they came from. I can't say anything different, and I wish
you would not trouble me, Mr. Cubbin!"

Fred and I called Cubbin, the constable, to one side, and asked him to
allow us a day or two to solve the mystery of the eggs--a little
arrangement which may seem strange to dwellers in towns, but which was
quite practicable at this time in this far-off place, and which he soon
agreed to allow.

I had been out shooting corncrakes that day, and Fred Harcourt had come
with me for a day in the meadows, as his brush and palette had wearied
him of late, and he longed to stretch his limbs and to see my spaniels
work in the weedy hedges and in the meadows, where the grass had stood
the test of the dry spring. We had taken off our coats to help our
neighbour with his sunburnt grass, and our guns were laid across them.
The spaniels had fallen asleep--using the coats as beds. While
conversing with Cubbin we had walked quietly to get our coats, and I saw
that one of the sleeping dogs was still hunting in his dreams. There was
nothing uncommon about this, for dogs will hunt in their sleep; but
some inner voice said to me that Deborah Shimmin, being a highly strung,
nervous girl, might hunt in her sleep also, and that such things as
somnambulists walking the roofs of high houses had been heard of, and I
remembered a lad in my own boyhood's days who was awakened early one
morning by the riverside with his rod in his hand and his basket slung
over his nightshirt. But I did not communicate my theory of the solution
of the mystery of the eggs to Cubbin, the constable.

When the policeman left the field I entered into a kindly talk with
Deborah Shimmin, and was not long in learning what the girl herself had
probably never thought of, that on the public reading of the Act for the
protection of sea-fowl, on the Tynwald day of the previous year, she had
been impressed by the thought that Andrew would now be forbidden to
employ his agility and his courage in a form of sport she often tried to
dissuade him from.

I knew before this that she had recently lost her mother, and had
suffered a bereavement through a favourite brother being lost at sea one
stormy night at the back-end herring fishing off Howth Head.

"Poor Deborah," I said to Fred, "she is all nerves, and the hand of
life's troubles is holding her; surely she must be innocent of
encouraging her lover in risking his life--the only precious life left
to her now!"

"And the jolly Andrew," said Fred, "certainly looked the most amusing
picture of innocence, as Cubbin trotted him along the grass! But your
theory of the somnambulant business is a bit fanciful, all the same."


PART II.


At ten o'clock that night Fred Harcourt and I were bivouaced within
sight of the only door of the house where Deborah Shimmin worked as a
domestic help in the family of her uncle. The night was not dark, it
seldom is dark in these northern islands so late in May, but there was
a light of the moon at its first quarter, and a glint of some stars
shone down upon us as we hearkened to the stillness of the air and to a
frequent movement of a tired horse in the stable.

Our bivouac was a clump of trammon trees (elders) at the corner of the
orchard which adjoined the farm buildings. Between us and the dwelling
house there was a disused pigsty. At about a quarter to eleven o'clock a
man, with a red setter dog at his heels and a fowling piece on his arm,
came sneaking up, and crept into the sty.

Then there was another long spell of silence, not broken, but rather
intensified, by the words which I whispered to Fred Harcourt that the
fellow who crept into the sty was Kit Kermode, and that he could be
after no good.

At midnight a cock crew at the far end of the village, and a dog barked.
Then there was silence again, save that every now and again a sedge
warbler, far away by the stream near Shenvarla, sang a faintly audible
song. Our position on the slope of the foot-hill at Gordon House was
between the village and the hills which girt the sea coast. This made my
theory of the sleep-walking to the cliffs more plausible. But while we
lay low in the clump of trammon trees the appearance of Kit Kermode,
with his cat-like walk and his eyes that could wink slander faster than
any old woman's tongue could wag it, gave me a theory, or at least a
speculation, in another direction.

In soft whispers to Fred Harcourt, who was new to the village, I told
him how the rascal Kermode hated Andrew the blacksmith. "He hates him,"
I said, "I do verily believe, for his good honest face, his manly
outspoken tongue, his courage, and his power of arm, but most of all he
hates him since Andrew, years ago as an innocent and unthinking lad, ran
after him in the village street and handed him a reminder of some money
which he owed his master."

"But what can that have to do with Deborah Shimmin's gulls' eggs?" asked
Fred, whose mind never seemed to see anything but pictures of divers
colours and inspiring outlines in the happy dreamland he lived in, all
unconscious of the world's cruelty, and hate, and love of evil.

I had just finished telling him that a man like Kermode might bribe a
boy to get him gulls' eggs, and sneak up to Deborah's window and quietly
reach in and place the eggs on her dressing-table, as a means of getting
Deborah and Andrew into trouble. I had just finished giving this outline
of the thought in my mind, I say, when the door of the farmhouse opened
and Deborah Shimmin, clad only in her nightdress, stepped lightly forth
and started up the hillside.

The next moment the man, his gun in the hollow of his arm and the red
setter dog at his heels, crawled forth from the pigsty, looked round as
if to make certain he was not watched, and followed the white figure of
the girl as she glided up the zig-zag path in the direction of the
haughs which formed the wild sea coast.

It did not take Fred and me very long to take off our boots and
noiselessly follow, guided by the figure in white, rather than by the
man who went before us, for the dim light of the moon and the northern
night made his dark dress difficult to see in the shadows of the hedges
and trees.

I knew that Deborah would take the usual path to the rocks, and bade
Fred follow close behind me while I took a shorter route. In ten minutes
we were again under cover when the girl passed close by us, her long
hair knotted roughly into a mass of rolls about her large and
well-formed head. Her eyes were open, and fixed in a glassy stare
straight ahead. She seemed to move along, rather than walk, and had no
appearance of either hesitation or haste; and Kermode, with his dog and
his gun, stealthily followed in her wake not twenty yards behind.

While we were crossing the field bordering the Gordon haughs, keeping
under the shadow of a gorse-clad hedge, Deborah disappeared over the
cliff, and the man, watched by Fred and myself, crept up to the edge of
the cliffs down which the poor girl had descended.

Before another minute had elapsed, Kermode had stretched himself out
his full length on a craig which overlooked the precipitous rocks down
which Deborah had disappeared. We then secured the cover of a mound not
thirty feet away from him.

The dog gave a low whine when he saw the head of his master craned out
to watch the movements of the white figure descending the rocks, and
then all was quiet as before.

Fred's suspense and anxiety for the safety of the girl was apparent in
his hard breathing; but my own were inconsiderable, for I knew that if
undisturbed by any noise unusual to the night, or any interference by
the fellow who now held the future happiness of Andrew, the smith, in
his hands she would safely climb up the haugh and make her way home to
bed, all unconscious of the awful position she had placed herself in.

Wicked as I knew the man to be, I did not now imagine that he had any
other intention in watching around the house than to try to discover
Andrew paying a nocturnal visit, with some gulls' eggs for his
sweetheart. This would have been a mean enough act, but it seems a small
thing beside the cruel and murderous deed he would have committed but
for the providential presence and prompt action of Fred Harcourt and
myself.

Fred and I lay low, with our chins resting on our hands, not daring even
to whisper. The dog whined a little now and again, and we heard the
subdued cries of seagulls as they flew off, alarmed in the darkness,
over the sea. Still Deborah did not make her appearance on the top of
the cliff. It seemed a long time that we lay and watched thus, but it
could not have been so long as it seemed.

Then Kermode, without raising himself from watching the climbing girl,
reached back for the gun which he had placed on the ground by his side.
He raised it to the level of his face, resting his left elbow on the
ground, and I heard the click of the hammer as he cocked it. Then I saw
his thumb and finger go into his waistcoat pocket.

"Good God!" I said in a loud whisper, as I sprang to my feet, for I
knew in one awful moment that the villain was feeling for a cap to
discharge a shot in the air above the head of Deborah, who would wake up
at the shock, and fall to the base of the craig in her terrible fright.
So intent was Kermode in his fell design of frightening the girl to her
destruction that he did not hear me, or notice the growl of his dog, or
feel the vibration of our tread as we both bore down upon him. We should
have been too late if it had not been for the life-long habit of the
wretch to secure himself from danger or suspicion. With his finger on
the trigger, all ready to pull, he paused one moment to raise himself
and look about. That moment saved the life of Deborah Shimmin, for the
would-be murderer was the next instant under the knee of Fred Harcourt
and his throat in his grip, while my hand was over the nipples of the
gun. While we were all on the ground together, and the setter dog had a
hold of Harcourt's leg, the tall form of Cubbin, the policeman, bent
over us. I had lowered the hammers of the gun and thrown it to one side
to grasp the dog, for Harcourt would not let go his hold of Kermode's
throat lest he should shout and wake the girl.

"Gag Kermode," I said to Cubbin, as I hit the dog just above the snout
with a stone, killing him by one blow.

Then Deborah Shimmin, holding something in a fold of her nightdress with
one hand, and climbing with the other, came up over the edge of the
cliff a few yards away from us.

She looked very beautiful as she stepped up on the sloping sward above
the haugh, with the pale moonlight just lighting her airy dress, and her
face all sad and careworn.

Leaving Kermode to the care of the constable, Fred and I noiselessly
followed the girl home, and saw her step over the obstacles in her path
as by instinct, turning her face neither to the right nor left.

We decided to awaken her before she reached the door of the farmhouse,
so that, according to the popular notion, she might never again become
somnambulent.

With this view I stepped before her as she approached the door, but was
astonished to find that she paused as if my presence blocked the way
before she yet saw me or touched me. But there was no misunderstanding
the blank stare in her wonderful eyes.

I gently put out my hand and took hers, as she put it out before her to
feel the influence of a presence she could not see.

She did not scream or faint. She awoke with a start, and let the eggs
fall on the ground.

At first she could not understand where she was, and just thought she
was dreaming; but by degrees it came to her that she was standing before
me in the pale moonlight when she thought she ought to be in bed.

Then I softly told her where she had been in her sleep, keeping back all
knowledge of Kermode's attempted revenge on Andrew, and how we had
decided to awake her. Then, with a little pleasant laugh, we both told
her that the mystery of the seagulls' eggs was solved, and that neither
Andrew nor she would be troubled again.

She fell to sobbing a little, and for the first time seemed to shiver
with the cold; then she lifted the latch and we bade her good night.

Nothing was done to Kermode, for the fellow swore he had no intention of
discharging the gun, and we could not prove he had, though the case was
clear enough in our eyes, and the deed would have been done had we not,
in God's providence, been there to prevent it.

Cubbin, the constable, it transpired afterwards, had overheard me giving
my theory of the sleep-walking to Fred in the hayfield, and he, too, had
been in hiding at the farm, and had watched and followed us all.

So there was a wonderful story for him to tell of how Deborah had made
good her defence against the charge he had laid against Andrew and her.
And the beautiful Deborah with the plain face became the bride of the
jolly Andrew, who was neither an artist nor an amateur sculptor, but
only a village blacksmith who had an eye for beauty of form and
character.



ROSE'S BIRTHDAY PRESENT.

_A TRUE STORY._

BY MARIE E. C. DELBRASSINE.


"Where is Rose?"

"Busy, as usual, with her mice and beetles, I suppose, father," answered
Ethel; "we have not seen her all this afternoon."

"She will probably be with you at teatime," said Dr. Sinclair, "after
which I should like you to ask her to come to me for a little while in
the surgery."

"Very well, father, I won't forget."

Dr. Sinclair retreated again to his surgery, which was arranged also as
his library, knowing that his willing helper would not fail to join him
there.

"I cannot think," said Maud, Ethel's sister, "what that girl finds to
interest her in all those horrid creatures--beetles and toads, and even
snakes, when she can get one; the other day I saw her handling a
slowworm as if it were a charming domestic pet. It was enough to make
one feel cold all over."

"Well, there is no accounting for taste; Rose never seems to care if she
is asked to a party or not," continued Ethel, "and she does not mind
helping father with his work, which I always find so tiresome, for he is
so dreadfully particular about it. Perhaps biologists are different from
other folks; I sometimes think there is something uncannny and queer
about them."

"I'm sure Rose is neither uncanny nor queer, she's just a brick," said
Jack, a schoolboy of fourteen, who was enjoying a Saturday half-holiday
at home with a new book, it being too wet to play cricket. "She is
always willing to do anything to help a fellow."

"Which means," said Ethel, "that you always expect girls to be your
slaves, when you are at home."

At this moment the door opened and Rose herself appeared.

"Well, Rose," said Maud, "have you pinned out a beetle, or taught your
pet ants to perform tricks?"

"Not this afternoon," said Rose; "I have had a delightful time with my
microscope, studying spiders and drawing slides for the magic lantern to
be used at my next little lecture to the G.F.S. girls."

"That sounds dry and uninteresting," yawned Maud. "Ah, here comes tea.
By the way, father would like you to go to his study afterwards. Poor
Rose, I expect he has some more tiresome work for you."

"Oh, don't call it tiresome, Maud dear; I quite enjoy it."

"It's a good thing you do. I hate being shut up there; it's such a
bore."

A quarter of an hour later a middle-aged man, whose snow-white hair made
him appear at first sight much older than he was in reality, might have
been seen busy over a manuscript, whilst a fair girl sat beside him,
reading out to him the notes he had made, and which he was working into
the book he was writing. The two seemed to work in perfect harmony.

Rose's father had been the rector of a remote country parish in
Cornwall. Most of his friends said that he was lost in such a
neighbourhood, and that it was a shame to have sent so able a man to
such a parish; but Mr. Sinclair never complained himself; he may
sometimes have thought it strange that other men were chosen before him
to occupy positions which he felt conscious he might well have filled,
but as his lot was cast in that Cornish nook, he had thrown himself
heart and soul into whatever work he found to do. The affection he won
from the rough fisherfolk, who regarded him as the father of the parish,
whose joys and sorrows, cares and anxieties, were all well known to him,
was as much to him as any brilliant worldly success. His means were
small, too small for his generous heart. He wished to give as good an
education as possible to his two children, Henry and Rose, and devoted
much time and trouble to that end. For several years he taught the boy
and girl together himself, Rose learning much the same lessons as her
brother; this laid the foundation of the accuracy which characterised
her in any task she undertook--a quality often lacking in feminine work.

Mr. Sinclair had been a good student of natural history, and had written
books and magazine articles which had been well thought of. Rose tried
to follow her father's pursuit; she would spend hours in reading about
birds and butterflies, and in making little researches herself. One of
her greatest pleasures had been to help her father, either by taking
notes for him or by writing at his dictation. She hoped herself some day
to add to her pecuniary resources by writing for biological papers or
even by giving lectures.

But the happy home life in the Cornish rectory was to end all too
quickly. Rose lost both her parents within a short time of each other;
her brother was at Oxford, working hard; and Rose was left alone, and
had to leave the home which was so dear to her.

It was then that her uncle, Dr. Sinclair, without a moment's hesitation,
offered her a home in his house. He did not listen to warning voices,
cautioning him against burdening himself with the charge of another
girl, for his own means were not large, and his family made many demands
upon his purse. He was a physician whose career might have been a
brilliant one had his practice been in London; but a fanciful and
invalid wife had rendered this impossible, as she declared she could
only exist in the pure air of the country.

So he had reluctantly abandoned his cherished hope of working as a
London doctor, and had settled near a small country town in
Gloucestershire, where he soon obtained most of the practice round; but
his scope was narrow. He nevertheless managed to keep in touch with his
profession, a profession in which he had entered heart and soul, making
various scientific researches in his laboratory, and sending the fruit
of them in clearly-written articles to medical papers. Now for this
work, either in writing short articles from his notes, or from his
dictation, a patient helper was of great assistance to him. His own
daughters, as already seen, disliked the work, and showed their father
no sympathy in it, whereas to Rose it was real enjoyment, filling, in a
measure, the void she felt in no longer helping her father. Between
uncle and niece a tacit sympathy had grown up. He encouraged her in her
natural history pursuits, and helped her to start the lectures she gave
to the G.F.S. girls in the neighbourhood. The suggestion had seemed
little likely to interest them, but Rose had been so clear and explicit
that the girls soon became eager for them.

Time went on in this way, when something happened which was again to
change Rose's circumstances. Truly it is that often trifles light as air
have an unknown weight of importance in them. One morning the letter-bag
brought a circular announcing that some "University Extension Lectures"
were to be given at C----, their nearest town, by a professor from
Oxford, the subject chosen being "Spiders," with notes from the
microscope.

When Dr. Sinclair had read it, he passed it, smiling kindly, to Rose.

"This is not for me," he said, "but I think I know some one whom it may
interest."

"Oh, uncle! how delightful," said Rose, when she had looked at it; "the
very thing I should enjoy!"

So it came to pass that Rose attended the lectures, entering very fully
into them, and taking careful notes.

At the close of the course, the lecturer said he would like any of the
students who felt sufficiently interested in the subject to write a
paper, and send it in to him, giving a summary of the lectures, and
asking any questions they might care to ask, at the end.

Rose and several others responded to the invitation, and wrote their
papers.

For some time Rose heard no more about it, but one morning she was
surprised to receive the following note:--

     "DEAR MADAM,--I have felt much satisfaction in reading your
     paper, which I return, with a few notes and answers to your
     questions. It shows me with what intelligent interest you
     have followed my lectures.

     "It may interest you to know that an examination for a
     scholarship at St. Margaret's Hall, the new college for
     women, is shortly to be held at Oxford; and if you care to
     pursue a subject for which you show much understanding, I
     would suggest your trying for it. I don't promise you
     success, but I think it is worth the venture. A friend of
     mine, a lady living in Oxford, receives lady students
     recommended by me, and would, I am sure, make you
     comfortable on very moderate terms. Yours truly,

     "B. FIELDING."

Rose read the letter two or three times and then passed it to her uncle.
Had she the means to go there--if, oh, _if_ she could only get the
scholarship, how delightful it would be!

"Come to my study," said Dr. Sinclair.

And as soon as the door was shut he said kindly,--

"I don't like you to lose this opportunity, dear child, so write and
tell Mr. Fielding you will go up to Oxford, if he will introduce you to
the lady he mentions."

"Oh, but, uncle," she said, "what Mr. Fielding may call moderate terms
may really mean a great deal more than should be paid for me."

"Never mind, little Rose," said Dr. Sinclair, "I meant to give my kind
little helper a birthday present, and this shall be it."

"Dear uncle, how kind of you. But remember, that whatever help, as you
term it, I may have given you, has always been a pleasure to me."

"And so, dear, is anything that I may do for you to me."

Thus it was settled, and a few days later, Dr. Sinclair himself started
for his own beloved Oxford with his niece. Jack and Maud went to the
station to see them off.

"Keep up your courage, Rose," said Jack, "you're pretty sure to pass,
for if any girl in England knows about creepy, crawley things, you do!"

When Rose returned some days later, she looked rather overstrained and
pale, and, to the surprise of Ethel and Maud, never looked at her
microscope, or at any of her treasures in the way of beetles and
tadpoles, but spent her time in complete idleness, except when she
helped them to do up some of their evening clothes for some forthcoming
dances; and they were surprised to see how deftly a biologist could sew.

One Saturday, as the three girls were sitting working together, Jack,
who was spending his half-holiday at home again, said, "Why, here comes
the telegraph boy!"

"Run and see who it is for," said Ethel, who had lately shown much more
sympathetic interest in Rose, and who began to realise that if Rose
obtained what she was so keenly set on, she, as well as others, might
miss the cousin who had been so kind and so unselfish an inmate of their
home. "Run and see, Jack; and if it is for any of us, bring it here."

Rose looked very white, but did not look up from her work.

"Addressed to Miss Rose Sinclair," said Jack, who soon returned.

Rose took the telegram with trembling fingers, and then tore it open.

It announced the following:--

"_Rose Sinclair passed first. Awarded scholarship St. Margaret's for
three years._"

"Oh, Ethel!" said Rose, "it is too good to be true."

"I knew you would pass," said Jack, "I always said you would, didn't I,
now?"

"Well," said Ethel, "we ought to be very glad for your sake."

"Yes," said Maud, "I congratulate you, Rose--but, I am very, very sorry
you are going away."

"Are you, dear?" said Rose; "I also shall feel lonely without all of
you, in this my second home. But let us go and tell uncle, for I
consider this his special birthday gift to me."

"So it is," said Dr. Sinclair, who appeared at that moment.

"Then your old uncle is much gratified in sending his niece to Oxford;
but he will miss his little girl very much."

Rose distinguished herself even far above Jack's expectation. After she
had concluded her college course, she devoted her time and knowledge to
giving lectures, for which she received remuneration, also to writing
articles for magazines, and subsequent events led to her settling in
Oxford. Whenever Dr. Sinclair wants an especially enjoyable holiday, he
goes to spend a few days with Rose, and the two compare notes on their
work. When he expresses his pleasure at her success, Rose loves to
remind him that she owes it greatly to his kindness that she was placed
in the way of obtaining it, through the birthday gift, which was to be
so helpful to her.



DOLLY HARDCASTLE'S ROSEBUDS.

_A CITY IDYLL_

BY CHARLES E. PEARCE.


Jack Cameron's office was a handsome apartment. It was approached by a
broad staircase, the balusters of which were impressive from their
solidity and design. The office door had a species of ornamental
pediment over it, and the room itself had panelled walls of a pale
green, a chimneypiece of portentous size, and a highly ornamental
ceiling.

Up the staircase tripped a little lady--a pleasant vision of a silk
blouse, butter-coloured lace, golden hair, fawn gloves, and tan
bottines, leaving behind her an atmosphere redolent of the latest
fashionable perfume mingled with the more delicate scent of the Marechal
Niel roses in her corsage.

She knocked at the door, and, as there was no response from within,
turned the handle.

"May I come in, please?" she said laughingly.

A young man was standing in a corner of the room opposite the
telegraphic machine, from which the "tape" was issuing with a monotonous
click. On this "tape"--a narrow strip of paper seemingly endless, which
fell on the floor in serpentine coils--were inscribed at regular
intervals some cabalistic characters unintelligible to the general
public, but full of meaning to the initiated.

He turned at the sound of the voice. "What! Dolly?" he exclaimed.

"Yes, Jack; didn't you expect me?"

"Of course--of course," answered Jack Cameron, rather confusedly.

The girl crossed the room, and, taking both the hands of the young man,
looked into his eyes.

"You are worried," said she softly.

"Oh, only a little. One is bound to have worries in business, especially
when the market's feverish. But I'm awfully glad you've come. I shall
forget all my bothers now you are here."

His tone brightened, and the shadow that was beginning to steal over the
girl's face disappeared.

They were engaged. The wedding-day was fixed for the following week;
naturally there was much to do in the way of house furnishing, and the
bride elect was happy. Shopping before marriage has a distinct charm of
its own. The feminine mind attaches to each purchase an ideal pleasure.
Then there is the special joy of being entrusted by her future husband
with money, and the pride of showing him how well she can bargain.

Jack Cameron was a stockbroker, and had done fairly well in South
Africans. But like a good many others he had kept his "Narbatos" too
long, and he saw his way to lose some money; not enough to seriously
damage his stability, but enough to inconvenience him at this especial
time when he was thinking of taking a wife.

Dolly Hardcastle knew nothing at all about this. Indeed, she knew
nothing about stockbroking. It seemed to her simply a pleasant, light,
gentlemanly profession, consisting principally in standing in
Throgmorton Street, with one's hat tilted backwards, smoking cigarettes,
eating oranges or strawberries according to the season, and talking
about cricket or football.

This was the first time she had been to Jack's office, and she was
prettily curious about everything--especially the telephone. She was not
satisfied until Jack had shown her how to work the apparatus.

The "ticker" was also an all-absorbing object of attention The
continuous "click, click," and the issuing of the tape without any
apparent motive power, had something of the supernatural about it. Dolly
looked at the white strips with wonder.

"What does this say, Jack? N-a-r-Narbatos, 2 ½. What does it mean?"

Alas! Jack Cameron knew too well what it meant. Narbatos had gone down
with a "slump." When Miss Hardcastle called he was debating whether he
should sell. This quotation decided him.

"Dolly," said he hurriedly, "do you mind me leaving you for five minutes
alone while I run into the 'House'?"

No, Dolly did not mind. Business, of course, must be attended to. Jack
seized his hat, snatched a kiss, and vanished.

"Dear old Jack," said Dolly, seating herself at the office table and
staring at the ticker. "I wonder whether he has many callers? Whatever
shall I do if anybody comes?"

She was considering this matter, with the assistance of the paper-knife,
pressed against her pretty lips, when the sharp ting, ting, ting, of the
telephone startled her.

Somebody wanted to speak to Jack. It might be important. Hadn't she
better go to the telephone? It was so nice to be able to help her future
husband.

"I wonder whether I could imitate Jack's voice?"

She went to the telephone and did exactly as Jack had instructed her to
do. She heard a sepulchral voice say, "Are you there?"

"Yes," said Dolly boldly.

"I have an offer of 5,000 Rosebuds. Will you take the lot, as you said
you would when we were talking about them the other day? Wire just
come."

"Five thousand rosebuds!" cried Dolly, with flashing eyes and cheeks
like the flowers just mentioned. "Then Jack is going to have the church
decorated after all. Darling fellow; he hasn't even forgotten the wire
for fastening them."

The man at the other end was evidently impatient, for he shouted that
Jack must decide at once. As the matter was one which concerned Dolly,
she had no hesitation what answer to give.

"Yes," she declared, in as bass a tone as she could assume.

She felt half inclined to waltz round the room, but she was afraid of
disturbing the occupant of the office below. Gradually she sobered down,
and by the time Jack Cameron returned she was quite sedate.

Jack had sold his Narbatos, and had lost £500 over the deal. But it was
no use crying over spilt milk. The immediate effect was that he would
have to be very economical over his honeymoon expenses. However, he
wouldn't say anything about the matter to Dolly that day. He would carry
out his promise--give her a nice luncheon at Birch's.

And so, putting on a mask of gaiety to conceal his real feelings, he
piloted his fiancée across Broad Street and Cornhill.

That luncheon took a long time. Basking in the smiles of his Dolly, he
gradually forgot stocks, shares, backwardations, and contangoes. Then,
when they came from Birch's, Dolly wanted to see the new frescoes at the
Royal Exchange, and she had to be obeyed.

It was quite three o'clock when he bethought himself that, though wooing
was very pleasant, he had several important letters to write, and must
return to his office.

"Thank you, Jack, dear, for being so nice to me to-day," whispered
Dolly, as they strolled towards the entrance of the Exchange; "and thank
you especially for letting me have the church decorated. The roses will
make the dear old place look sweetly pretty."

Jack stared. Had his Dolly taken leave of her senses?

"Decorations--roses!" he exclaimed, mechanically. "I don't understand."

"Ah, that's very clever of you," laughed Dolly, "pretending you know
nothing about it. You wanted to surprise me."

"Upon my word I had no intention of having the church decorated. I
should like to please you, of course, but----"

Well, he had already decided that the church decoration was one of the
expenses he would do without.

"Come now, confess. Haven't you ordered a quantity of rosebuds? You must
have forgotten. Anyway, it's all right, for while you were away from
your office there came a message through the telephone asking whether
you'd take 5,000 rosebuds you were talking to somebody about the other
day and of course I said yes. Gracious! Jack, dear, what is the matter?"

"Rosebuds--telephone. Of course, I see what has happened," faltered the
young stockbroker. "Oh, Dolly--Dolly."

"What have I done? Nothing very serious, I hope. If you don't want to
have the church decorated, why, I--I--shan't mind very--very much."

"It isn't that at all," said Jack, looking very queer. "Of course you
didn't know. Unluckily the message didn't mean flowers, but shares in
the 'Rosebud Gold Mining Company.'"

"Oh!"

It was quite true that Jack had contemplated speculating in "Rosebud"
shares, but he had heard some disquieting rumours about the mine, and
had decided not to touch them. And here he was the prospective owner of
5,000! Only two days before the quotation was 10s., with a tendency to
drop. To take them up was impossible, to sell would mean a loss.

"Dolly," said he hurriedly, "let me see you into an omnibus." And, after
a hasty farewell, he packed the young lady into a Kensington 'bus, and
rushed to the Mining door of the Stock Exchange in Broad Street.

"What are Rosebuds?" he inquired excitedly of a well-known stockbroker.

"15_s._ 6_d._, buyers, 14_s._ 6_d._, sellers."

And they were 7_s._ 6_d._, 7_s._, when the market opened that morning.
What did it mean, and at what price had he, or rather, had Dolly, bought
them?

He knew from whom the telephonic message had come. He dashed into his
office and rang up the man, a member of a West End firm of brokers.

"Eight shillings," was the reply. "Congratulate you. Your profit already
will pay for your honeymoon and a little more besides. Of course you'll
sell. It's a market rig, and I happen to be in the know."

Sell? Of course he would. A profit of over £1,800 would recoup him for
his loss of that morning, and leave him a handsome balance in the
bargain.

"Dolly, dearest," he whispered that night, "the rosebuds are all right.
The old church shall be smothered in them from end to end."

And so it was, but like a prudent man he never explained that but for
Dolly's unconscious assistance there might have been no roses and
perhaps very little honeymoon. He was afraid Dolly might want to help
him again!



A TALE OF SIMLA.

BY DR. HELEN BOURCHIER.


There was a dinner-party that night at the lieutenant-governor's, and
those of the governed who had followed him from his territory of Lahore
up to Simla were bidden to the feast. In one of the pretty private
sitting-rooms of the Bellevue Hotel three ladies were discussing
chiffons in connection with that function.

"Elma doesn't care for dinner-parties," Mrs. Macdonald said regretfully.

Elma was her daughter, and this was her first season in Simla.

"Oh, mother, I like the parties well enough!" said Elma. "What I hate is
the horrid way you have of getting to parties."

"What do you mean?" the third lady asked.

"Elma means that she doesn't like the jampans," Mrs. Macdonald
explained.

"I am always frightened," said Elma in a low voice, and a little of the
delicate colour she had brought out from England with her faded from her
lovely face. "It seems so dreadful to go rushing down those steep,
narrow lanes, on the edge of a precipice, in little rickety two-wheeled
chairs that would turn over in a minute if one of the men were to
stumble and fall; and then one would roll all down I don't know how many
feet, down those steep precipices: some of them have no railings or
protection of any kind, and in the evening the roads are quite dark
under the overhanging trees. And people have fallen over them and been
killed--every one knows that."

"Elma cannot speak Hindustani," the mother further explained, "and the
first time she went out she called '_Jeldi, jeldi!_' to the men, and of
course they ran faster and faster. I was really rather alarmed myself
when they came tearing past me round a corner."

"I thought _jeldi_ meant 'slowly,'" said Elma.

"Well, at any rate you have learnt one word of the language," said Mrs.
Thompson, laughing.

"I should not mind so much if mother was with me," said the girl; "but
those horrid little jampans only hold one person--and mother's jampannis
always run on so fast in front, and my men have to keep up with them. I
wish I wasn't going this evening."

"She has the sweetest frock you ever saw," said Mrs. Macdonald, turning
to a pleasanter aspect of the subject. "I must say my sister-in-law took
great pains with her outfit, and she certainly has excellent taste."

"Didn't you ever feel nervous at first," Elma asked, "when you went out
in a jampan on a dark night down a very steep road?"

Mrs. Thompson laughed. "I can't say I remember it," she said. "I never
fancied myself going over the _kudd_--the 'precipice' as you call it. I
suppose I should have made my husband walk by the side of the jampan if
I had been afraid."

Then she got up to go, and Mrs. Macdonald went out with her and stood
talking for a minute in the long corridor outside her rooms.

"She is a very lovely creature," said Mrs. Thompson pleasantly. "I
should think she is quite the prettiest girl in Simla this year."

"I think she is," the mother agreed; "but I am afraid she will be very
difficult to manage. She is only just out of the schoolroom, you know,
and girls are so unpractical. She doesn't care to talk to any one but
the subalterns and boys of her own age--and it is so important she
should settle this year. You know we retire next year."

"It is early days yet," said the other cheerfully.

She had come out to India herself as the bride of a very rising young
civilian, and she knew nothing of the campaign of the mothers at Simla.

Elma indeed looked a lovely creature when she came out of her room an
hour or two later to show herself to her mother before she stepped into
the hated jampan. Her dress was a delicate creation of white lace and
chiffon, with illusive shimmerings of silver in its folds that came and
went with every one of her graceful movements. She was a tall and
slender girl, with a beautiful long white throat, smooth and round, that
took on entrancing curves of pride and gentleness, of humility and
nobleness. She had splendid rippling hair of a deep bronze, that had
been red a few years earlier; and dark blue dreamy eyes under broad dark
eyebrows; a long sweep of cool fair cheek, and a rather wide mouth with
a little tender, pathetic droop at the corners.

"That frock certainly becomes you to perfection," said the mother. "I
hope you will enjoy yourself; and do try not to let the boys monopolise
you this evening. It is not like a dance, you know, and really, it is
not good form to snub all the older men who try to talk to you."

Elma lifted her long lashes with a glance of unfeigned surprise. "Oh,
mother," she said humbly, "how could I snub any one? I am afraid of the
clever men. I like to talk to the boys because they are as silly as I am
myself, and they would not laugh at me for saying stupid things."

"No one is going to laugh at you, goosey," said her mother.

"I wish I was not going," said Elma.

The ayah came out of the bedroom, and wrapped the tall young figure in a
long white opera-cloak; and then they all went down together to the
front verandah, where the jampans waited with the brown, bare-legged
runners in their smart grey and blue liveries.

Mrs. Macdonald started first. "Don't call out _jeldi_ too often, Elma,"
she called back, laughing: "I don't want to be run over."

And the ayah, hearing the word _jeldi_, explained to the jampannis that
the Miss Sahib desired, above all things, fleetness, and that she had no
mind to sit behind a team of slugs.

Elma got in very gingerly, and the ayah settled her draperies with
affectionate care. The dark little woman loved her, because she was
gentle and fair and never scolded or hurried.

The night was very dark. The road was by narrow backways, rough, heavily
shadowed, and unprotected in many places. The jampannis started off at a
run down the steep path as soon as they had passed through the gate, and
Elma sat trembling and quaking behind them, gripping both sides of the
little narrow carriage as she was whirled along. Once or twice it bumped
heavily over large stones in the road; and when they had gone some
little distance a dispute seemed to arise between the runners. They
stopped the jampan and appealed to her, but she could not understand a
word they said. She could only shake her head and point forward. Several
minutes were lost in this discussion, and when at length it was decided
one way or the other, the men started again at a greater speed than
ever, to make up for the lost time.

They bumped and flew along the dark road, and whirled round a corner too
short. One of the men on the inner side of the road stumbled up the
bank, and, losing his balance, let go the pole, and the jampan heeled
over. Elma's startled scream unnerved the other runners, who swerved and
stumbled, and in a moment the jampan was overturned down the side of the
_kudd_. The white figure in it was shot out and went rolling down the
rough hillside among the scrub and thorny bushes and broken stakes that
covered it.

The jampannis ran away; and after that one scream of Elma's there was
silence on the dark road.

It seemed to her that she was years rolling and buffeting down that
steep hillside, which happily at that point was not precipitous. Then
something struck her sharply on the side and stopped her farther
progress. She did not faint, though the pain in her side gripped her
breath for a moment. For all her delicate ethereal appearance, she was a
strong girl, and, like many timid people, found courage when a disaster
had really happened. She could not move. She was pinned down among the
short, stiff branches of a thorny shrub; but she screamed again as loud
as she could--not a scream of terror, but a call for help. Then she lay
and listened. All about her there was no sound but the rustling murmur
of the leaves and the tiny, mysterious noises of the little creatures of
the night whose realm she had invaded. Now and again she tried to move
and disentangle herself from the strong branches that held her; but they
pressed her down, the thorns pinned her clothes, and her bruised side
ached with every movement--and she was forced to lie still again and
listen for some sound of the jampannis, who must surely be looking for
her.

Presently, on the road above, there sounded, very faint and far off, the
tramp of shod feet. She called again, and the tramp quickened to a run,
and a man's voice shouted in the distance: "Hullo! Hullo!"

As the steps came nearer above her, she cried again: "Help! I am
here--down the _kudd_."

In the leafy stillness her shrill young voice rang far and clear.

"Where are you?" came the answering voice.

"Down the _kudd_."

The steps stopped on the road above.

"Are you there?" the voice called. "I see something white glimmering."

"I am here," she answered; then, as the bushes crackled above her, she
called a warning: "It is very steep. Be careful."

Very slowly and cautiously the steps came down the steep side of the
_kudd_ to an accompaniment of rolling stones and crashing and tearing
branches, and now and then a muttered exclamation. Then she was aware of
a white face glimmering out of the darkness.

"Are you there?" said the voice again, quite close to her.

"Yes, I am here, but I cannot move; the branches hold me down."

"Wait a moment. I will get a light."

She was lying on her back, and, turning her head a little, she could see
a match struck and the face it illuminated--a strong, dark, clean-shaven
face; a close-cropped, dark, uncovered head. The match was held over her
for a moment, then it went out.

"I see where you are," said the rescuer, "we must try to get you out.
Are you hurt?"

"I have hurt my side, I think," she said.

Without more words he knelt down beside her and began to tear away and
loosen the short, sturdy branches; then he took her under the shoulders,
and drew her slowly along the ground. There was a great rending and
tearing in every direction of her delicate garments; but at last she was
free of the clinging thorns and branches.

"I am afraid the thorns have scratched you a good deal," he said in a
very matter-of-fact voice. "Will you try if you can stand up now? Lean
on me."

Elma scrambled to her feet, and stood leaning against him--a glimmering,
ghostly figure, whose tattered garments were happily hidden by the
darkness.

"Do you think you can manage to climb back to the road now?" he asked;
"there may be snakes about here, you know."

"I will try," said Elma.

"I will go first," he said. "You had better hold on to my coat, I think.
That will leave my hands free to pull us up."

Very slowly and laboriously they clambered back again to the road above;
there was no sign of the jampannis, and the jampan itself had gone over
the _kudd_ and was no more to be seen.

They sat down exhausted on the rising bank on the other side of the
road.

"How did you get here?" he asked.

"My jampan went over the side, down the precipice," said Elma, "and I am
afraid those poor jampannis must have been killed."

The stranger laughed long and loud, and Elma, in the reaction of her
relief, laughed too.

"I have not the slightest idea what you are laughing at," she said.

"You have not been long in this country?" he asked.

"Why?"

"You do not know the jampanni. As soon as the jampan tilted they let go,
and directly they saw you had gone over they ran away. Killed! Well,
that is likely! I daresay they will come back here presently to pick up
the pieces, when they have got over their panic: they are not really
bad-hearted, you know. We will wait a little while and see."

There was silence between them for a few peaceful moments; then Elma
said gently, "I thank you with all my heart."

"Oh, not at all!" said the stranger politely.

They both laughed again, young, heart-whole, clear laughter, that echoed
strangely on those world-old hills.

"Words are very inadequate," said Elma presently.

"Oh, one understands all right without words," said he; "but where is
the rest of your party, I wonder? I suppose you were not alone?"

"Mother has gone to a dinner-party," she answered. "Oh dear, what ought
I to do? She will be so frightened! She is waiting for me. I must get
some one to go and tell her I am all right. How could I sit here and
forget how frightened she will be when I don't come!"

"We had better wait a little longer, I think," he said. "You cannot walk
just yet, can you?"

"My shoes are all cut to pieces," she owned ruefully. "I suppose we must
wait. It was very lucky for me you were passing just then."

"Yes, I had just cut the shop for an hour or two, and I came round here
to have a quiet smoke. Lost my way, as a matter of fact."

"They must keep open very late at your shop," she remarked.

He hesitated a moment before he answered, "Very late."

"And I suppose you haven't dined?" she went on. "You must come back with
me, and dine at the hotel. I cannot go on to the party now, at any rate;
my clothes are in rags, and, besides, it must be quite late."

"Do you know your way back to the hotel?" he asked, as the time went on
and the jampannis remained, to all appearance, as dead as ever.

"No, I have never walked down this way, and it is far too dark to
attempt it now," said Elma very decidedly.

The time passed pleasantly enough while they waited, and more than once
their light-hearted laughter rang out into the night.

At last they heard a pattering of bare feet coming down the road. The
stranger hailed in Hindustani, and the natives stopped and began an
excited jabbering all together, which the stranger answered in their own
language.

"These are the jampannis who were killed," he announced to Elma. "If you
wish it, I will send one of them with a message to your mother, and the
others can fetch a couple of jampans to take us to the hotel."

"You seem to know Hindustani very well," she remarked, when the men had
been sent on their various errands.

"Yes, I have been some little time in India," he answered, "though I
have only been a few days at Simla. Will you allow me to introduce
myself? My name is Angus McIvor."

"And I am Elma Macdonald. I hope we shall not meet any one at the hotel
before I can get to my room. Oh! and will you let me go on in front, and
get out before you come?--I am so dreadfully tattered and torn."

"I promise not to look at you at all until you give me leave," he
answered gravely. "And what about me? I have lost my hat, and as yet I
have no idea of the extent of the damage my garments have sustained."

"Then I won't look at you either," said Elma, and they laughed together
again in the gayest _camaraderie_.

Dinner was over at the Bellevue when they got back there; but they
neither of them felt the want of other company. They had a very merry
little dinner-party all to themselves, and Angus was able to look at the
damsel errant he had rescued. Her beauty came upon him with a shock of
surprise. He had seen many beautiful women in his time, but never
anything so enchanting as the droop of her mouth, or the lovely curves
of her throat, or the transparent candour of her sweet blue eyes.

What Elma saw was a tall, well-knit young fellow, with a dark, plain
face, a hawk nose, and grey eyes. He was clean-shaven; no moustache or
beard concealed the masterful squareness of his jaw or the rather
satirical curve of his thin lips.

Directly dinner was over he left her, though she begged him to stay till
her mother came home.

"Mother would like to thank you for what you did for me," she said.

"I will come and be thanked to-morrow morning, then," he said, laughing.
"I shall want to know how you are after your accident, you know--that
is, if I can get away from the shop."

Mrs. Macdonald came home rather early, and not in the best of tempers.
She had been a good deal alarmed and upset when Elma failed to arrive at
Government House; and even after the jampanni had brought the message
that her daughter was safe at the hotel she was extremely annoyed at
Elma's absence from the party. There were several bachelor guests whom
she would have been glad to introduce to her; and when she thought of
the radiant figure in the shimmering white robe that she had last seen
on the hotel verandah, she was ready to cry with vexation and
disappointment.

She listened with ill-concealed impatience to Elma's account of her
accident. "And pray who is this Mr. McIvor who roams about rescuing
distressed damsels?" she asked. "I never heard his name before."

"He said he came out of a shop," said Elma simply.

"A shop!" cried Mrs. Macdonald. "Really, Elma, you are no better than an
idiot! The idea of asking a man who comes out of a shop to dine with you
here! What will people say? You must be mad."

"But he was very kind to me, mother," said Elma, "and he missed his own
dinner by helping me. And, you know, I might have lain in that horrible
place all night if he had not helped me out. I don't see that any one
here can complain about his shop; they were not asked to meet him: we
dined quite by ourselves, he and I."

Mrs. Macdonald stamped her foot. "You are hopeless, Elma--quite
hopeless!" she cried. "What was your aunt dreaming of to bring you up to
have no more sense than a child of three years old?"

"He is very gentlemanly," said Elma, still gently expostulating. "You
will see for yourself: he is coming to call on you to-morrow, and to ask
how I am."

"Elma, I forbid you to see him again!" said the mother, now tragically
impressive. "If he calls to-morrow, I shall see him alone. You are not
to come into the room."

"I am afraid he will think it very unkind and rude," said Elma
regretfully; "and I can never forget how kind he was and how glad I was
to see him when he came down the _kudd_ after me."

But she made no further resistance to her mother's orders, having
privately decided in her own mind to find out what shop in Simla had the
advantage of his services, and to see him there herself and thank him
again.

Angus McIvor duly called next morning, and was received by Mrs.
Macdonald alone; but what passed between them at that interview remains
a secret between him and that lady.

After lunch Elma strolled out for her usual solitary walk while her
mother was enjoying her siesta. She wandered idly along under the trees
down the road along which the jampannis had whirled her the evening
before, and so to the broken edge of the _kudd_ where she had rolled
over.

There, sitting on the bank, smoking serenely, was Angus McIvor. He threw
away his cigar, and got up as soon as she saw him.

Her lovely face flushed, her blue eyes darkened with pleasure, as she
held out her hand in greeting.

"I thought you would be sure to come here," he said, smiling down upon
her.

"Oh, you expected me, then?" she said, and her eyes fell before his.

"Why weren't you there this morning when I came to be thanked?" he
asked.

She turned her head away uneasily. "Mother did not wish me to come in,"
she said.

"Why not?"

No answer.

"Well, never mind that now," he said. "I will ask you again some other
time. Now let us go up towards the top of Jacko; there are some pretty
views I should like to show you."

And, nothing loth, Elma went with him.

"Why did your mother not wish you to see me this morning?"

"I cannot tell," said Elma lamely.

"Was it because of the shop?" he persisted. "Tell me. I promise you I
will not mind. Was it?"

The fair head drooped a little, and the answer came in a whisper he
could hardly hear: "Yes."

"And do you mind about the shop?"

She raised indignant blue eyes to his. "Of course not!" she said. "You
ought to know that without asking me."

"Then will you meet me again to-morrow outside here?" he asked.

"No, I cannot do that."

"Then you are ashamed of the shop?"

"Indeed, I am not!"

"But I cannot meet you any other way," he urged. "I cannot come to see
you, and you have not been to my shop yet since I came to Simla. So
where can I see you? Will you meet me again?"

"Indeed, I cannot!"

"Then it is the shop?"

The blue eyes were full of distress, the tender mouth grew more
pathetic. "I will come just once," she said, "to show you I care nothing
about the shop. But you must not ask me again to do what I know my
mother would not like. I cannot deceive her."

And on the next day they met again and walked together.

He did not ask her to meet him again, but on the third day he joined her
at the gate.

"This is quite accidental, you know," he said, laughing down into her
happy eyes.

And as they walked in the tender green shadows upon wooded Jacko, his
eyes said, "I love you," and hers faltered and looked down.

And on the homeward way he took her hand. "I will not ask you to meet me
again in secret, my sweetest," he said, "because I love you. I am
ashamed that for one moment I doubted your innocent, unworldly heart. I
will woo and win you openly as you should be wooed."

And without waiting for an answer, he kissed her hand and left her.

That evening there was a great reception at Government House, and the
Viceroy's new aide-de-camp, Lord Angus McIvor Stuart, helped to receive
the guests.

"This is my 'shop,' Mrs. Macdonald," he said. "It was a silly and slangy
way to speak of it; but, upon my honour, I never meant to deceive any
one when I said it first."

Then was Elma Macdonald openly wooed and won by the man who loved her.



THE TREVERN TREASURE.

BY LUCY HARDY.


A garden in the west of England some two and a half centuries ago; an
old-world garden, with prim yew hedges and a sundial, and, in one shady
and sequestered nook, two persons standing; one, a man some forty years
of age, tall and handsome, the other a lady of grace and beauty some
fifteen years his junior. Both were cloaked and muffled and spoke in low
and anxious tones.

"An anxious task well done, sweetheart," the husband said at length, in
tones of satisfaction; "and now, my darling, remember that this secret
lies betwixt thou and I. Be heedful in keeping it--for thine own sake
and that of our little babe. Should evil times arise, this hidden
treasure may yet prove provision for our boy and for thee." So saying,
he drew her arm within his own and led her into the house.

Sir Ralph Trevern had strongly espoused the Royal cause from the
commencement of the Civil troubles, and was now paying a hurried visit
to his home, to conceal his chief valuables, and to arrange for the
departure of his wife Sybil and his baby heir to Exeter; a town still
loyal to the king, and where he hoped his wife and babe would be safer
than in their remote Devonshire Manor House amid neighbours of
Parliamentary sympathies.

At Exeter Sybil Trevern remained until the city was forced to capitulate
in the spring of 1646; and then, widowed and landless (for Sir Ralph had
fallen at Marston Moor and his estate had been confiscated), she was
thankful to accept the invitation of some Royalist friends, who had
accompanied the queen, Henrietta Maria, in her secret flight to France
some while before, and journeyed, with her babe, to join them in Paris.

There was no opportunity for Sybil Trevern to return to her old home,
now in the possession of enemies; and, remembering her husband's strict
charge of secrecy, she was reluctant to mention the hidden treasure,
even to her friends.

"I will reveal it to our boy when he is of an age to understand it,"
thought Lady Trevern; but she never lived to see her son grow into
manhood, or even into youth.

The trials and sorrows which had befallen her had told upon the gentle
woman; and while the little Ralph was still a child, his mother passed
into the Silent Land.

The concealment of valuables in secret places frequently results in
misadventure. Sybil had often described to her little son the concealed
valuables, which, if the exiled Royalists were ever able to re-visit
England, she hoped to recover for herself and for him; and, in later
years, Sir Ralph could still recall the enigmatical words in which his
mother had (possibly with the idea that the rhyme might, as it did,
cling to his childish memory) spoken to him of the hidden treasure.

    "Near the water, by the fern,
    The Trevern secret you shall learn,"

had often been whispered into his childish ears, and this rhyme was now
the only clue that he possessed to the hiding-place of all that remained
of his family's fortunes. The articles heedfully concealed by the elder
Sir Ralph were of no small value. Besides papers and documents of some
moment to the family, and some heirlooms (antique silver so prized as to
have been exempted, even by the devoted Royalists, from contribution to
the king's "war treasure chest," for which the University of Oxford, and
many a loyal family, had melted down their plate), Sir Ralph had hidden
a most valuable collection of jewels, notably a necklace of rubies and
diamonds, which had been a treasured possession of the Treverns since
the days of Elizabeth, when one of the family had turned "gentleman
adventurer," become a companion of Drake and Hawkins, and won it as a
prize from a Spanish galloon.

In his childhood, the present Sir Ralph had heard (from old servants as
well as from his mother) descriptions of these treasured jewels; but the
secret of their hiding-place now rested with the dead.

Sir Ralph grew to manhood, returned to England at the Restoration, and
finally, after much suing and delay, succeeded in obtaining repossession
of his small paternal estate. Then, for many months, did he devote
himself to a careful, but utterly unavailing, search about his property,
vainly seeking along the lake-side and all round the big pond for the
concealed valuables--but never finding aught but disappointment. The
neighbours said that the silent, morose man, who spent his days walking
about the estate with bent head and anxious, searching eyes, had become
a trifle crazed; and indeed his fruitless search after his hidden wealth
had grown into a monomania.

As the years rolled by, Sir Ralph became a soured and misanthropic man;
for his estate had returned to him in a ruinous and burthened condition,
and the acquisition of his hidden treasure was really necessary to clear
off incumbrances and to repair the family fortunes.

Lady Trevern often assured her husband that it was more than probable
that the late Cromwellian proprietor had discovered the jewels during
his occupancy, and that, like a prudent man, he kept his own counsel in
the matter. But Sir Ralph still clung to the belief that somewhere in
his grounds, "near the water and by the fern," the wealth he now so
sorely needed lay concealed. That in this faith Sir Ralph lived and died
was proved by his will, in which he bequeathed to the younger of his two
sons, "and to his heirs," the jewels and other specified valuables which
the testator firmly believed were still concealed _somewhere_ about the
Trevern property. The widowed Lady Trevern, however, was a capable and
practically-minded woman, little inclined to set much value upon this
visionary idea of "treasure trove." She was most reluctant to see her
sons waste their lives in a hopeless search after the missing property,
and succeeded in impressing both her children with her own views
regarding the utter hopelessness of their father's quest. And, as the
years passed away, the story of the "Trevern Treasure" became merely a
kind of "family legend." The ferns said nothing, and the water kept its
secret.

Fortune was not more kindly to the Treverns in the eighteenth century
than she had been in the seventeenth. Roger Trevern, the elder son and
inheritor of the estate, found it a hard struggle to maintain himself
and his large family upon the impoverished property, while the younger
son Richard, the designated heir of the missing treasure, became
implicated in the Jacobite rising of 1715, was forced to fly to Holland
after Mar's defeat, and died in exile, a few years after the disaster of
Sherrifmuir, bequeathing a destitute orphan girl to his brother's
charge.

Roger Trevern, a most kindly man, welcomed this addition to his already
large family without a murmur; and little Mary Trevern grew up with her
cousins, beloved and kindly treated by all in the household. It was only
as the child grew into womanhood that a change came over Madam Trevern's
feelings towards her young niece; for Madam Trevern was a shrewd and
sensible woman, a devoted, but also an ambitious, mother. Much as she
liked sweet Mary Trevern, she had no desire to see her eldest son, the
youthful heir of the sadly encumbered estate, wedded to a portionless
bride, however comely and amiable. And Dick Trevern had lately been
exhibiting a marked preference for his pretty cousin, a fact which
greatly disturbed his mother's peace of mind.

Mary herself knew this, and did not resent her aunt's feelings in the
matter. The girl, as one of the elders among the children, had long been
familiar with the story of the family straits and struggles, and could
only acquiesce (though with a stifled sigh) in Madam Trevern's oft
repeated axiom that "whenever Dick wedded, his bride must bring with her
sufficient dowry to free the estate" from some of the mortgages which
were crushing and crippling it. Mary knew that a marriage between
herself and Dick could only result in bringing troubles upon both--and
yet--and yet--love and prudence do not often go hand-in-hand--and
although no word of actual wooing had ever passed between the young
folk, both had, unfortunately, learned to love each other but too well.
Wistfully did she think of that hidden treasure, now but a forlorn hope,
yet all the hope she had.

"And had the poor child but a dowry there is none to whom I would sooner
see our Dick wedded," Madam Trevern once remarked to her husband; "for
Molly is a good girl, and like a daughter to us already. But, Roger,
'tis but sheer midsummer madness to dream of such a marriage now; truly
'twould be but 'hunger marrying thirst.' Dick must seek for a bride who
at least brings some small fortune with her; and is there not Mistress
Cynthia at the Hall, young and comely, and well dowered, casting eyes of
favour upon him already?"

Roger Trevern sighed a little; he honestly liked Mary, and would have
welcomed her heartily as a daughter-in-law, though prudent
considerations told him that his wife spoke truly regarding the
hopelessness of such a marriage for his son.

And then Madam Trevern went on to discuss with her husband the scheme
she had now much at heart, viz., the separation of the young folks by
the transference of Mary to the family of a distant kinsman in London.

"You do but lose your youth buried here with us, child," said Madam
Trevern to Mary, with kindly hypocrisy one day, "while with our cousin
Martin, who would be glad enough to take a bright young maid like thee
to be companion to his ailing wife, thou mayst see the world, and
perchance make a great marriage, which will cause thee to look down upon
us poor Devon rustics." But Mary wept silently, though she was ready,
even willing, to go to London as desired.

It was the girl's last day in the old home; her modest outfit had been
prepared and packed, and the old waggoner was to call on the morrow to
convey Mary and her uncle (who was to be her escort to the wonderful,
far-off "London town") to Exeter; whence, by slow and tedious stages,
the travellers would reach the metropolis at last.

Dick, who had been astutely sent away from home for a few weeks, knew
nothing of his cousin's intended departure--Madam Trevern had purposely
schemed thus to escape any "farewells" between the young people,
arranging Mary's London visit very suddenly; and "perhaps 'twas the
wisest," the girl sighed to herself as she wandered for the last time
round the old, familiar garden, and seated herself, _alone!_ on the
mossy well curb, where she and Dick had so often sat and talked together
on sweet summer evenings in the past.

Mary's heart was indeed sad within her, and visions of what "might have
been" would keep welling up before her. Oh! if only some good fairy had
been keeping back the secret of the hidden treasure to reveal it now,
how happy it would be.

Her solitary musings were, however, put to flight by the appearance of
the younger children, with whom she was a great favourite, and who had
gained an hour's respite from their usual "bed-time" upon this, their
cousin's last night at home. Tom, and Will, and Sally, and Ben, had
indeed received the tidings of their beloved "Molly's" impending
departure with great dismay; and their vociferous lamentations were
hardly to be checked by their mother's assurances that one day "Cousin
Molly" might come back to see them, when she was "a great lady, riding
in her coach and six," and would bring them picture-books and gilt
gingerbread.

It was with a strange pang at her heart that Mary now submitted to the
loving, if rather boisterous, caresses of the urchins who climbed her
lap and clung around her neck.

But Mary had not chosen her quiet seat with a view to childhood's romps
or she had chosen a safer one. As it was the shout of merriment was
quickly followed by a sudden cry, a splash, and a simultaneous
exclamation of dismay from Mary and the children. Will, the youngest,
most troublesome, and therefore best beloved of the family, the
four-years-old "baby," had slipped on the curb of the well,
overbalanced himself, and fallen in; dropping a toy into the water as he
did so. In a moment Mary was on her feet. Seizing the bucket, she called
the elder boys to work the windlass, and, with firm, but quiet
instructions and a face as white as death, consigned herself to the
unknown deep.

Near the bottom of the well, which was not very deep, she came upon her
little cousin suspended by his clothes to a hook fastened in the well
side. She was not long in disengaging the little fellow's clothes from
the friendly hook, and was about to signal to be drawn up, when beneath
the hook, and explanatory of it--"near the water, by the fern"--what was
it? A large hole in the side of the well, and in it--the Trevern
treasure, found at last!

Though the lapse of many years had rotted some of the leather covering
of the jewel casket, the gems themselves, when lifted out, flashed forth
in undimmed beauty; the silver cups and flagons, if discoloured, were
still intact, and the papers in the metal case were well preserved.

These last proved of great importance to Roger Trevern, enabling him to
substantiate his claim to some disputed property, which was quite
sufficient to relieve his estate of all its embarrassments.

And as for Mary, she restored her youngest cousin to his mother's arms,
and took the eldest to her own.



A MEMORABLE DAY.

BY SARAH DOUDNEY.


Miss Tillotson's grey parrot had called "Clarissa" a dozen times at
least, and was listening with his cunning head on one side for footsteps
on the stairs. Breakfast was ready; an urn, shaped something like a
sepulchral monument, was steaming on the table, and near it stood an old
china jar filled with monthly roses. It was a warm, bright morning--that
twenty-ninth of August in the year 1782. The windows at each end of the
room were wide open, but scarcely a breath of air wandered in, or
stirred the lilac bushes in the garden. For the Tillotsons' house could
boast of a respectable strip of ground, although it stood in a street in
Portsea.

At a quarter past eight Clarissa Tillotson came downstairs, and entered
the room with a quick, firm step, taking no notice of the parrot's
salutation. She was a tall, fair girl of nineteen; her hair, worn
according to the fashion of that period, in short curls, was almost
flaxen; her eyes were clear blue, her features regular, and, but for a
certain hardness and sternness about the mouth, she might have been
pronounced beautiful. She was dressed in a short-waisted gown of white
muslin, with a blue girdle; her bodice was cut square, leaving her neck
uncovered; her tight sleeves reached to the wrists. The gown was so
scanty, and the skirt clung so closely to her figure, that it made her
appear even taller than she really was. And at this day, on the wall of
a modern London mansion, Clarissa's grandchildren and
great-grandchildren behold her in a tarnished gilt frame, habited in
the very costume which she wore on that memorable morning.

"Good-morning, Anthony," she said stiffly, as a young man, two years
older than herself, made his appearance.

"Good-morning, sister," he answered in a cheery tone, drawing a step
nearer as if he meant to give her a kiss. But Clarissa drew up her
stately figure to its full height, and turned quickly to the table.

Her brother coloured with annoyance. There had been a quarrel between
them on the preceding day, and Anthony was willing to make the first
advance towards reconciliation. But he saw that Clarissa intended to
keep him at a distance, and he knew the obstinacy of her nature too well
to renew his attempt. He took his seat with a sigh, thinking how bright
the home-life would be if the cloud of her unyielding temper did not too
frequently darken the domestic sunshine.

"I find that father is not well enough to come down yet," he said at
last, breaking an awkward silence. "He means to leave his room this
afternoon."

"Dr. Vale charged him to be very cautious," rejoined Clarissa.

These young people were motherless; the daughter reigned as mistress of
her father's house, acknowledging no control save his, and that was of
the mildest kind. Captain Tillotson was the most indulgent of parents;
his wife had died while Clarissa was still too young to realize her
loss, and the child had been entirely left to the care of an old
servant, who allowed her to have her own way in all things. At school
she had been forced to submit to discipline; but her strong will was
never conquered, and she generally contrived to gain an ascendency over
her companions. Having retired from long and honourable service in the
Royal Navy, the captain settled himself at home, to pass his old age in
peace; and Clarissa proved herself an affectionate daughter. But Anthony
was scarcely so easy to manage as her father; to him, his sister's word
was not always law, and she sometimes found herself good-humouredly
contradicted.

"If I give in," thought she, going over the before-mentioned quarrel,
"he will think that he has got the mastery. No; I will treat him with
marked coldness until he makes an apology."

Thoroughly chilled by her frigid tone and manner, Anthony made few
efforts to sustain the conversation. Breakfast was finished in silence,
and he rose rather hastily from his seat at the table.

"I am going on board the _Royal George_ this morning," he said, moving
towards the door. "If my father asks for me, Clarissa, please tell him
that I wanted to say a few words to Lieutenant Holloway. He will have to
sail again shortly."

"Very well," replied Clarissa, indifferently.

The hall-door closed behind him, and she rung the bell to have the
breakfast-table cleared. Then the sunshine tempted her to saunter into
the garden, and gather a bunch of sweet lavender, but from some
unexplained cause her mind was ill at ease. She could take no pleasure
in her flowers; no interest in the vine which had been her especial
care; and she returned to the house, determined to spend the morning at
her worsted-work. Seating herself near the open window, she drew her
frame towards her, and arranged her crewels. The shining needle darted
in and out, and she was soon deeply absorbed in her occupation.

Every piece of work has a history of its own; and this quaint
representation of the woman of Samaria was fated to be of great interest
to succeeding generations. But the busy worker little guessed what
memories would hereafter cling to that morning's labour, nor dreamed
that some day those very stitches would remind her of the darkest hours
in her life.

She worked on until the old clock in the hall struck ten; and at the
same moment a sudden gust of wind swept through the room, strewing the
table with petals from the over-blown roses in the jar, and blowing
Clarissa's curls about her head. It was a welcome breeze, coming as it
did after the sultry stillness, and she stood up between the two windows
to enjoy the draught. Then, after pacing the long room to and fro for
awhile, she sat down to her frame again, and began to think about her
brother Anthony.

Had she been quite right after all? Would it not have been well to have
received that kiss of peace? Was it such a very meritorious thing to
hold out until her adversary had humbled himself before her? Even if the
apology were made, would it not be rather a poor victory--one of those
conquests which degrade instead of exalting the conqueror? Anthony was a
noble fellow, a brother of whom most girls would be proud. His only
fault was that determination to maintain his own opinion; but was that
indeed a fault? She worked faster, and almost decided that it was not.

So busy was her brain that time flew by unheeded, and she started to
hear the clock striking one. Scarcely had the stroke died away, when a
shrill cry came ringing through the quiet street, driving the colour out
of her face in an instant. Springing up from her chair, she hurried to
the window that overlooked the pavement, and saw that people had come to
their doors with dismayed faces, for a woman was standing on the
causeway, raising that terrible wail.

"It's all true--it's all true!" she shrieked. "The _Royal George_ has
gone down at Spithead."

The two maid-servants rushed upstairs in affright, for the cry had
reached their ears. The captain heard it in his room overhead, and came
down in his dressing-gown and slippers; but his daughter scarcely stayed
to exchange a word with him. Mechanically seizing the garden-hat and
shawl that hung in the hall, she put them on, and ran out into the
street, setting off at full speed for the dockyard gates. Could it be
true? Alas! the news was confirmed before she reached her destination,
and the first wail was but the herald of many others. Even in that hour
of universal distress and consternation people took note of the tall,
fair young lady whose face and lips were as white as the dress she wore.

The _Royal George_ had lately arrived at Spithead after a cruise, and on
that fatal morning she was undergoing the operation known as a
"parliament heel." The sea was smooth and the weather still, and the
business was begun early in the morning, a number of men from Portsmouth
dockyard going on board to assist the ship's carpenters. It was found
necessary, it is said, to strip off more of the sheathing than had been
intended; and the men, eager to reach the defect in the ship's bottom,
were induced to heel her too much. Then indeed "the land-breeze shook
her shrouds," throwing her wholly on one side; the cannon rolled over to
the side depressed; the water rushed in; and the gallant ship met her
doom. Such was the story, told in hurried and broken words, that
Clarissa heard from the pale lips of an old seaman; but he could give no
other tidings. The boats of the fleet had put off to the rescue; that
was all he could tell.

There was no hope in Clarissa's heart as she turned her steps homewards.
Anthony had gone down--gone down with Admiral Kempenfeldt and his eight
hundred. The same breeze that had scattered the rose-petals and played
with her curls had a deadlier mission to perform. She remembered how she
had stood rejoicing in that sudden gust of cool wind, and the thought
turned her faint and sick as she reached her father's house.

"Clarissa," cried the captain, meeting her at the door, "what is all
this? Surely it can't be true. Where's Anthony?"

Ay, where was Anthony? She threw her arms round the old man's neck, and
hid her eyes upon his shoulder that she might not see his face.

"Father--dear father! He said he was going to see Lieutenant Holloway on
board----"

She could not finish her sentence, and there was no need of more words.
Captain Tillotson was a brave man; he had faced death many a time
without flinching, but this was a blow which he was wholly unprepared to
meet. Putting his daughter gently aside, he sat down on a sofa, and
looked straight before him with that terrible blank look that tells its
own tale of a stroke that has crushed out all strength. The servants,
glancing from the father to the daughter, saw that on both faces this
sudden sorrow had done the work of years. What was time? Was it months
or minutes ago that the first cry had sounded through the street?

"If I had only kissed him!" Clarissa did not know that she was saying
the words aloud. To her, indeed, this cup was doubly bitter, for it was
mingled with the gall of remorse. But for that hard nature of hers, she
might have had the sweetness of a kind parting to think upon. Had he
forgiven her, in his loving heart, while the great ship was going down,
and the water was taking away his life? Ah, she might never know that,
until the cruel sea gave up its dead.

There was a noise of wheels in the street; but what were noises to her?
The sound drew nearer; the wheels stopped at the door, but it could be
only some friend, who had come in haste to tell them the bad news which
they knew already.

Battered, and bruised, and dripping with water, a man descended from the
hackney coach, and Clarissa started up.

The face was so pale, the whole aspect so strange, that she could not
receive the great truth all at once. It was not until he entered the
room, and knelt down, wet and trembling as he was, at his father's feet,
that she realized her brother's safety.

Anthony had been on the upper deck when the ship sank, and was among
that small number who escaped death. All those who were between decks
shared the fate of the great Admiral who went down with his sword in its
sheath, and ended his threescore years and ten of hard service, in sight
of shore. The many were taken, the few left; but although hundreds of
homes were made desolate that day, there were some from whence the
strain of thanksgiving ascended, tempered by the national woe.

People were wont to say afterwards that Clarissa never again looked so
young and fair as she did before the blow fell. But if that day's agony
robbed her of her bloom, it left with her the "meek and quiet spirit"
which never comes to some of us until it is gained through a great
sorrow.



DORA.

_AN OSTLER'S STORY._

BY ALFRED H. MILES.


Tell you a story, Master 'Arry? Ah! there's only one story as ought to
be told in this yer stable, and that's the old un as allus hupsets me to
tell. But I don't mind a-goin' over the old ground once ag'in, Master
'Arry, as you know werry well, if these yer gents 'as a mind to listen
to a hold man's yarn. It beats all the printed stories as ever I see,
but then, as I ain't no scholar, and can't see werry well neither,
p'raps that ain't no much wonder arter all. Reading ain't much in my
line, yer see, sir, and, as the old master used to say, "Bring up yer
boys to the prerfishuns yer means 'em to foller." 'Osses is my
prerfishun, sir, and 'osses I was brought up to.

Excuse me just a minute, sir, if yer don't mind a-settin' on this yer
stool. I don't like to see nobody a-leanin' ag'in that there post. That
were "Snowflake's" stall, sir, in the old time, and "Snowflake" were
little Dora's pony.

My father were os'ler here, sir, afore I were born, and I growed up to
the stable, Master 'Arry, just as your ole father growed up to the 'All.
It were in ole Sir Markham's time, this were--ole Sir Markham, whose
picture hangs above the mantel in the dinin'-'all, as fine a hold
English gen'leman as ever crossed a 'unter and follered the 'ounds. The
first time as ever I see Sir Markham were when I were about four year
old. O' course, we lived on the estate, but I don't know as I'd ever
been up to the 'All till that partickler mornin', when I came wi' a
message for my father, and meets ole Sir Markham in the park. Now, yer
know, Sir Markham were a queer ole chap when he liked. He didn't take no
nonsens from nobody, he didn't. I've seen him thrash the keeper afore
now with his own ridin' whip, and he wouldn't 'a' stood partickler about
a boy or two, and as there'd been a deal of fruit stole out o' the
orchard about that time, he thought he'd jist up and frighten me a bit.
So he hollers out--"Hi! there, you boy, what right 'a' you got in my
park?" but I see a sort o' twinkle in his eye, so I knowed he weren't
real cross, and so I up and says, "Ain't boys got a right to go where
their fathers is?" He didn't say nothing more to me then, but when he
sees my father he says, "That's a smart boy o' yours, Jim," he says,
"and when he's a bit older yer must 'ave 'im up 'ere to 'elp."

Well, sir, I got a bit older in time, and I come up 'ere to 'elp, and,
'ceptin' for a very little while, I've been 'ere ever since.

I were a boy of fourteen when the things 'appened as make up the rest o'
my story. Sir Markham he were a matter o' sixty year old, I should say,
and Miss Dora, as I see it said in a book, once, "sweet, wery sweet,
wery, wery sweet seventeen."

I allus 'ad a hadmiration for Miss Dora. "Darling Dora" they called 'er
at the 'All, and so did I, when nobody wasn't listenin'. Nobody couldn't
know 'er without admirin' 'er, but I 'ad a special sort of hadmiration
for 'er as 'ad made me do any mortal thing she asked me, whatever it
might 'ave costed.

Yer see, when I were quite a little chap, and she were no much bigger,
she ses to me one day, when I were a bit scolded, she ses, "Never mind,
Jim," she ses, "cheer up; you'll be a man o' some sort some day;" and I
tell you, though I allus 'ad a hidea that way myself, when she said it I
grow'd a hinch straight off. If yer believes in yourself, Master 'Arry,
yer can do a lot, but if somebody else believes in yer there ain't
nothink in the whole world what yer can't do.

My particler business in the stable were Miss Dora's pony, Snowflake,
darling Dora's darling, as it got called o' times. She rode out a great
deal, did Miss Dora, and she rode well, and I generally 'ad to foller
'er on the bay cob. She'd spend a lot o' time about this yer stable, one
way and another, and we got to be werry partickler friends. Not as I
presum'd, mind yer, nor as she forgot 'er station; she were just a
hangel, she were, what couldn't be spoilt by nobody's company, and what
couldn't 'elp a-makin' o' other people wish as they were summut in the
hangel line, too.

But yer a-gettin' impatient I see, gents, and I ax yer pardon for
a-ramblin' a bit.

Well, it were Chris'mas time, as it might be now, and young Markham
(that were your father, Master 'Arry) he were 'ome from Oxford for 'is
'olidays, with as nice a young fellow as ever stepped, as 'ad come with
him to spend Chris'mas at the 'All. They called 'im the "Captain," not
that he were a harmy captain, or anythink of that, he were a captain of
summut at the college--maybe football or summut else. Somehow he often
came 'ome with young Markham at 'oliday times, and 'im and Miss Dora was
partickler friendly like.

It were not a werry snowy Chris'mas that year, though there were plenty
of frost, and the lake in the park would 'a' borne the London coach and
four without a crack. Young Markham and the Captain and Miss Dora did a
deal o' skatin', and ole Sir Markham invited a lot o' friends to come
and stay Chris'mas for the sake o' the sport. They did say as Aunt
Dorothy as Miss Dora were called arter 'ad been a-preachin' at 'im for
a-neglectin' o' Miss Dora and a-keepin 'er at the 'All without no
society, and I s'pose that's why Sir Markham were a-aggitatin' himself a
bit cos' we never 'ad no fuss at Chris'mas as a rule.

Well, we was werry busy at that time, I can tell yer; several of the
wisitors brought their own 'osses with them, and me and my father had
plenty to do a-lookin' arter 'em.

Among the wisitors as come from London were a real military hofficer, a
reg'lar scaff'ld pole he were, for length and breadth, with mustaches as
'ud 'a' done for reins, if 'e'd only been a 'oss. He weren't no
favourite o' mine, not from the fust. He were a bit too harbitry for me.
He were a-thinkin' he were a-goin' to hintroduce 'is harmy regerlations
into our stables; but he allus 'ad to wait the longest, for all 'is
hinterferin'. But what used to rile me the most with him were 'is nasty,
sneerin' ways at young Markham's friend, the Captain. Yer see, sir, he
were a real harmy captain, and so I s'pose he were a bit jealous o' our
young Captain, as was a lot better than 'im, arter all. O' course I
didn't see it at the time, but I've said to myself lots o' times since,
it were a reg'lar plant, that's what it were, that Aunt Dorothy 'ad
brought the big soldier down o' purpose for Miss Dora to fall in love
with; but 'e were just a little bit too late.

Well, yer know, gents, I told yer as I were quite a youngster at the
time, and though ole Sir Markham said as I were werry sharp, I must
confess as I didn't quite understand 'ow things were a-goin' on. I
noticed that the two captains kept pretty clear of each other, and that
Miss Dora never came near the stables for three days together, which
were a werry unusual thing for 'er; and one of the ole servants at the
'All told me as the hofficer 'ad been hasking Sir Markham if he might
pay his addresses to Miss Dora, and that Sir Markham 'ad said he might.

My ole father were a-hactin' a bit queer about that time, too; he kept
a-hasken' me if I'd like to be a postboy, or drive the London coach, or
anything o' that, cos', he ses, "Yer know, Jim, Miss Dora 'll be
marryin' somebody one o' these days, and maybe you'll 'ave to find
summut else to do when Snowflake's gone." "Well," I ses, "if Miss Dora
got married and go'd away, I reckon she'd take me with 'er to look arter
'er 'osses, so I sha'n't want no postboy's place, nor coachun's neither,
as I sees." And father he seemed pretty satisfied, he did, only 'e says,
"If ever you should want to drive to Scotland, Jim," he ses, "you go
across the moor to the Burnley Beeches, and then yer bears off to yer
right by the Ambly Arms, three mile along you'll fine the great North
Road, and there yer are."

Well, I didn't take no notice of this, though father he kept on sayin'
o' summut o' the sort all day long, and when it came to evenin', bein'
Chris'mas Eve, we went up to the 'All to 'ave supper in the kitchen, and
drink ole Sir Markham's 'elth. Sir Markham come down in the servants'
'all and made a speech, and some o' the gents come down too; but while
things were a-goin' at their 'ighest, my father he says to me, "Jim," 'e
says, "if ever you want to go to Scotland you go across the moor to the
Burnley Beeches, and then yer bears off to yer right by the Ambly Arms,
three mile along you'll fine the great North Road, and there yer are."
"All right," I says, angry like, "I don't want no Scotland; what d'yer
want to bother me for with yer Burnley Beeches, and yer Ambly Arms?"
"Jim," 'e ses solemn, "yer never know how useful a bit of hinformation
may come in sometimes; now," he says, "you'd better run over to the
stables, and see if all is a-goin' on right." Well, I see it was no use
argifyin', so off I starts. I sees as I comes near the stables as there
were a light there, as ought not to be, and o' course, I run back'ard to
tell my father, but lor, I thought he were off 'is 'ed, for all he ses
was, "If ever you wants to go to Scotland, Jim, it's across the moor to
the Burnley Beeches, off to yer right, by the Ambly Arms, three mile
along you'll fine the great North Road, and there yer are."

They'd been a-drinkin' a bit 'ard some of 'em, and I ses to myself
father's been a'elpin' of 'em, and I tears off to the stables to see
what was up.

Well, when I gets here, I comes in at that there door behind yer, sir,
and what should I see, but Miss Dora in Snowflake's stall, a-kissin' and
a-cryin' over 'im like mad. She didn't take no notice o' me no more'n if
I hadn't been there at all, and I came and stood ag'in that there post
as you were a-leanin' ag'in just now, sir. Little Dora were a-sobbin' as
if 'er 'art would break, and she were a-tryin' to say "Good-bye."
They're only little words, sir, at the most, but werry often they're the
'ardest words in all the world to say.

Well, sir, to make a long story short, it were just this: Sir Markham
had told 'er as she mustn't think nothink of young Markham's college
friend, 'cos 'e were poor and 'adn't nothink but 'is wits and 'is
learnin' to live on, and that the tall soldier 'ad been a-haskin' for
'er, and he'd promised 'er to 'im; and it 'ad clean broke 'er 'art, and
so she 'ad come down to this yer stable where everythink loved 'er to
tell 'er sorrows to her old pet Snowflake, to bury her face in his snowy
neck, and wipe 'er eyes on his flowin' mane.

But, afore I 'ad time to say anythink, who should foller me in at the
door but the young Captain hisself, and 'e come and stood by me a moment
without sayin' a word. He were werry pale, and 'is eyes shone like fire,
and at last he ses, in a hoarse sort of a whisper, "Jim," 'e ses, "they
wants to marry darling Dora to the big swaggerin' soldier, and I want
yer to 'elp me prewent 'em." "'Elp yer prewent 'em," I ses; "why, I'll
prewent 'em myself. I ain't werry big, p'r'aps, and maybe I couldn't
reach 'is bloated face, but a stone 'ud find 'is head as quickly as it
did the big Bible chap as David killed; and maybe I can shie." I hadn't
practised on ole Sir Markham's apples for nothink.

Well, sir, I needn't say as it didn't come to that. The fact is,
everythink were arranged. It were a matter o' seventy miles to Scotland
by the road, and they'd made up their minds to start for Gretna Green as
soon as the wisitors 'ad gone to bed. Father were in the swim, and
that's why he'd been a-'intin' to me all day and 'ad sent me to see what
the light meant. My father 'e were a artful ole man, 'e were; he knowed
better nor to 'ave anythink to do with it hisself. Why, I b'leave Sir
Markham 'ud a murdered 'im if he 'ad, but me, o' course,--I was only a
boy, and did as I were told.

Well, sir, a-hactin' under horders, I were a-waitin' with the
post-chaise at them Burnley Beeches at eleven o'clock. I'd been
a-waitin' some time, and I begun to be afraid as they weren't a-comin'.
At last I see a white somethink comin' along, and in another minute
they was alongside. I shall never forget that night. Miss Dora fainted
directly she were inside the carriage, and to me she looked as if she
were dead. "For God's sake, and for Dora's sake, drive for your life,
Jim!" said the young Captain, and I just did drive for my werry life. It
was werry dark and I couldn't see much, and it must a bin a-rainin' or
summut else,--anyhow there were a preshus lot o' water got in my eyes,
till I couldn't see nothink. Father had taken care to git the 'osses in
good condition, and they went away as though they knew as they were
a-carryin' their darlin' Dora from death to life.

From the Burnley Beeches I drove as I 'ad been directed, past the Ambly
Arms, and three mile further I found the great North Road, and there I
wore. You never know how useful a bit o' information may come in
sometimes. It were pretty straight work now, and the only thing I 'ad to
fear was a-wearin' out me 'osses afore we reached the Border. At two
o'clock we stopped and baited, and the young Captain he give me the tip.
He says, "Don't go _too_ fast," he ses; "they won't be arter us for an
hour or two yet, if they come at all. I've given 'em summut else to look
for fust," 'e ses, "and it'll take 'em all their time."

Weil, there ain't no need to make a long story out o' our run to
Scotland; we got there safe enough arter imaginin' as we was follered by
highwaymen, and goblins, and soldiers, and hall sorts o' other hevil
sperits, which were nothink but fancy arter all.

Why, bless yer, we 'adn't no real need to fear; the young Captain he
were one too many for 'em, he were, in more ways nor one. Afore he came
away he smashed a big hole in the ice, in the middle of the lake, and
put 'is 'at and Miss Dora's muff on the edge of the hole; and they were
a-breaking up the ice and dragging the lake all Chris'mas Day instead of
a-follerin' us.

Next thing came the weddin' in the blacksmith's shop, where the young
Captain took our darling Dora all to hisself, with ne'er a bridesmaid
but me to give 'er away and everythink else. Poor little Dora, she
fainted right off ag'in directly it were all over; and the young Captain
he flushed up regular, like one o' them hero chaps as they put in books.
I never see such a change in any one afore or since. 'E seemed as if 'e
could do anything now Miss Dora were hall 'is own. I tell yer, sir, you
can't fight nothing like 'arf so 'ard for yourself as yer can if you've
got some one else to fight for.

After the weddin', the Captain put up at the "Blacksmith's Arms," where
'e writes a long letter to ole Sir Markham, and one to your father,
Master 'Arry, which he give me to deliver, and with which I started 'ome
ag'in.

Ole Sir Markham never forgave the young Captain for a-runnin' off wi'
Miss Dora, and if it 'adn't 'a' bin for your father, Master 'Arry, I
shouldn't never 'a' come back to the 'All. Arter that they went abroad
to some foreign place as I never heerd of, and they lost track of 'em up
at the 'All too arter a bit; though I know as your father, Master 'Arry,
used to send 'em lots o' things without Sir Markham a-knowin' anythink
about it. And then came the letter with the black edge as said as our
Dora 'ad died o' one of them furren fevers as I didn't even know the
name of, and arter that we never heard no more. Poor ole Sir Markham
began to break up werry soon arter that. He were not like the same man
arter Miss Dora went, and werry soon 'e kept to the 'ouse altogether,
and we never saw nothink of 'im out o' doors.

Next thing we 'eard as he were ill, and everybody were a-wishin' as Miss
Dora 'ud come back and comfort 'im. At last, when he were really
a-dyin', 'e kep' on a-callin' her, "Dora, Dora," in 'is wanderin's like,
and nobody couldn't answer 'im, their 'arts was that full as there
weren't no room for words. I remember that night, sir, as if it were
yesterday, and yet it were forty year ago, Master 'Arry, ten year afore
you were born. It were Chris'mas Eve, and ole Sir Markham he were
keepin' on a-haskin' for Miss Dora, and I couldn't stand it no longer,
so I come over 'ere to smoke my pipe and be to myself, yer see, and bide
my feelin's like. Well, I were a-sittin' on a stool in that there
corner, a-thinkin' about ole Sir Markham and our darlin' Dora, when I
looks up, and as true as I ever see anythin' in my life I see her
a-standin' there afore me. She didn't take no notice of me, though, but
she run into Snowflake's stall there, sir, and buried her pretty face in
'is neck and stroked his mane and patted his sides, then she laughed one
o' her silv'ry laughs and clapped 'er 'ands and calls out, "'Ome again,
'ome again at last; happy, happy 'ome. Jim, Jim, where's that lazy Jim?"
But lor', sir, she were gone ag'in afore I could get up off the stool. I
rushed up to the 'All like lightnin', I can tell yer, and I see a bright
light a-shinin' in ole Sir Markham's bedroom. I never knowed 'ow I got
up them stairs, but I heerd ole Sir Markham cry out as loud as ever I
heerd 'im in my life, "Dora, Dora, come at last; darling Dora, darling!"
'E never said no more, did ole Sir Markham, she had taken 'im away.

       *       *       *       *       *

You'll excuse me a-haskin' you not to lean ag'in that post, won't you,
sir? It's a kind o' sort o' friend o' mine. There ain't a sorrow as I've
ever had these forty year that I haven't shared with that post. It 'ave
been watered by little Dora's tears, and it 'ave been watered by mine,
and there ain't nothink in the 'ole world as I walues more. It ain't for
the likes o' me to talk o' lovin' a hangel like 'er, sir, but I 'av'n't
never loved no one else from that day to this, and maybe when my turn
comes at last, Master 'Arry, to go where there ain't no difference
between rich and poor, I may 'ear 'er bright sweet voice cry out ag'in
to me: "'Ome ag'in, Jim: happy, happy 'ome!"



LITTLE PEACE.

BY NORA RYEMAN.


In the heart of England stands a sleepy hollow called "Green Corner,"
and in this same sleepy hollow stands a fine old English manor house
styled "Green Corner Manor." It belongs to the Medlicott family, who
have owned it for generations. In their picture gallery hangs a most
singular picture, which is known far and wide as "The Portrait of Little
Peace." It depicts a beautiful child in the quaint and picturesque
costume of the age of King Charles II. A lamb stands by her side, and a
tame ringdove is perched on her wrist. Her eyes are deeply, darkly blue,
the curls which "fall adown her back are yellow, like ripe corn."
Beneath this portrait in tarnished golden letters are these words of
Holy Writ, "Blessed are the peacemakers," and if you read the chronicles
of the Medlicott family you will read the history of this child. It was
written by Dame Ursula, the wife of Godfrey Medlicott, and runs as
under:--

"It was New Year's Eve, and my heart was heavy, so also was my
husband's. For 'Verily our house had been left unto us desolate.' Our
son Hilary had died in France, and our daughter, Grace, slept in the
chancel of the parish church with dusty banners once borne by heroic
Medlicotts waving over her marble tomb. 'Would God, that I had died for
thee, my boy,' said dead Hilary's father when he looked at the empty
chair in the chimney corner; 'and, my darling, life is savourless
without thee,' I cried in bitterness of spirit, as I looked at the
little plot of garden ground which had been known as Mistress Gracie's
garden when my sweet one lived. Scarcely had this cry escaped my lips
when a most strange thing befel. Seated on the last of the terrace steps
was a little child, who as I passed her stretched out her hand and
caught fast hold of my gown. I looked down, and there, beside me, was a
most singular and beautiful child. The moonlight fell on her small, pale
face and long, yellow hair, and I saw that she was both poorly and
plainly clad. 'What do you want, my little maid?' I asked. 'You, madam,'
she said serenely. 'From whence have you come?' was my next query. 'From
a prison in London town,' was the strange reply. Doubtless this child
(so I reasoned) was the daughter of some poor man who had suffered for
conscience' sake; and, mayhap, some person who pitied his sad plight had
taken the girl and thrown her on our charity, or, rather, mercy.
'Child,' said I, 'wilt come into the Manor with me, and have some
chocolate and cake?' 'That will I, madam,' she answered softly. 'I came
on purpose to stay with you.' The little one has partly lost her wits, I
thought, but I said nothing, and the stranger trotted after me into my
own parlour, just as a tame lamb or a little dog might have done. She
took her seat on a tabouret at my knee, and ate her spiced cake and
sipped her chocolate with a pretty, modest air. Just so was my Gracie
wont to sit, and even as I thought of her my dim eyes grew dimmer still
with tears. At last they fell, and some of them dropped on the strange
guest's golden head, which she had confidingly placed on my knee.
'Don't, sweet madam,' she said, 'don't grieve overmuch! You will find
balm in giving balm! You will find comfort in giving comfort! For _I am
Peace_, and I have come to tarry with you for a little space!' I
perceived that the child's wits were astray, but, somehow, I felt
strangely drawn to her, and as she had nowhere else to go I kept her
with me, and that New Year's Eve she slept in my Grace's bed, and on
the succeeding day she was clothed in one of my lost ewe lamb's gowns,
and all in the household styled her Little Peace, because she gave no
other name at all.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Time passed on--and the strange child still abode with us, and every
day we loved her more, for she 'went about doing good,' and, what is
more, became my schoolmistress, and instructed me in the holy art of
charity. For my own great woe had made me forgetful of the woes and
afflictions of others. This is how she went about her work. One winter
day, when the fountain in the park was frozen, the child, who had been
a-walking, came up to me and said, 'Dear madam, are apples good?' 'Of a
surety they are--excellent for dessert, and also baked, with spiced ale.
Wherefore dost ask?' 'Because old Gaffer Cressidge, and the dame his
wife, are sitting eating baked apples and dry bread over in Ashete
village, and methinks that soup would suit them better. Madam, we must
set the pot boiling, and I will take them some. And, madam, dear, there
must be a cupboard in this house.' 'Alack, my pretty one,' said I, 'of
cupboards we already have enow. There is King Charles's cupboard in
which we hid his Majesty after Worcester fight, and the green and blue
closet, as well as many others. Sure, you prattle of that of which you
do not know.' She shook her fair, bright head, and answered, 'Nay,
madam, there is no strangers' cupboard for forlorn wayfarers, and there
must be one, full of food, and wine, and physic, and sweet,
health-restoring cordials. And the birdies must have a breakfast daily.
Dorothy, the cookmaid, must boil bread in skimmed milk, and throw it on
the lawn; then Master Robin and Master Thrush and Mistress Jenny Wren
will all feast together. I once saw the little princes, in King Edward's
time, feed the birdies thus; and so did Willie Shakespeare, in Stratford
town.' Alas, I thought, alas, all is _now too_ plain. This child must
have been akin to some great scholar, who taught her his own lore, and
too much learning hath assuredly made her mad; but I will humour her,
and then will try to bring her poor wits home. Thus reasoning, I placed
her by my side, and cast my arms around her, and then I whispered, 'Tell
me of thyself.' 'That will I,' she replied. 'I am Peace, and I come both
in storms and after them. I came to Joan the Maid, on her stone scaffold
in the Market Place of Rouen. I came to Rachel Russel when she sustained
her husband's courage. I came to Mère Toinette, the brown-faced peasant
woman, when she denied herself for her children. I came to Gaffer and
Grannie Cressidge as they smiled at each other when eating the apples
and bread. And I came to a man named Bunyan in his prison, and lo! he
wrote of _me_. Now I have come to you.' 'Yea, to stay with me,' I said,
but she answered not, she only kissed my hand, and on the morrow, when
the wintry sunlight shone on all things within the manor house, it did
_not_ shine upon her golden head! Her little bed was empty, so was her
little chair; but the place she had filled in my heart was _still_
filled, and so I think it will be for ever! Some there are who call her
a Good Fay or Fairy, and some there are who call her by another and
sweeter name, but I think of her always as Little Peace, the hope giver,
who came to teach me when my eyes were dim with grief. For no one can
tell in what form a blessing will cross his threshold and dwell beside
him as his helper, friend, and guest."



THE STORY OF WASSILI AND DARIA.

_A RUSSIAN STORY._

BY ROBERT GUILLEMARD.


Whilst staying in Siberia, on one occasion, when returning from an
evening walk in the woods I was surprised at seeing a young Russian girl
crying beside a clump of trees; she seemed pretty, and I approached; she
saw me not, but continued to give vent to her tears.

I stopped to examine her appearance; her black hair, arranged in the
fashion of the country, flowed from under the diadem usually worn by the
Siberian girls, and formed a striking contrast, by its jet black colour,
with the fairness of her skin. Whilst I was looking at her, she turned
her head, and, perceiving me, rose in great haste, wiped off her tears,
and said to me:

"Pardon me, father--but I am very unfortunate."

"I wish," said I, "that it were in my power to give you any
consolation."

"I expect no consolation," she replied; "it is out of your power to give
me any."

"But why are you crying?"

She was silent, and her sobs alone intimated that she was deeply
afflicted.

"Can you have committed any fault," said I, "that has roused your
father's anger against you?"

"He is angry with me, it is true; but is it my fault if I cannot love
his Aphanassi?"

The subject now began to be interesting; for as Chateaubriand says,
there were love and tears at the bottom of this story. I felt peculiarly
interested in the narrative.

I asked the young Siberian girl who this Aphanassi was whom she could
not love. She became more composed, and with enchanting grace, and
almost French volubility, she informed me that the summer before a
Baskir family had travelled further to the north than these tribes are
accustomed to do, and had brought their flocks into the neighbourhood of
the zavode of Tchornaïa; they came from time to time to the village to
buy things, and to sell the gowns called _doubas_, which their wives dye
of a yellow colour with the bark of the birch tree. Now her father, the
respectable Michael, was a shopkeeper, and constant communications began
to be established between the Baskir and the Russian family. This
connection became more close, when it was discovered that both families
were of that sect which pretends to have preserved its religion free
from all pollution or mixture, and gives its members the name of
_Stareobratzi_. The head of the Baskir family, Aphanassi, soon fell in
love with young Daria, and asked her in marriage from her father; but
though wealthy, Aphanassi had a rough and repulsive look, and Daria
could not bear him; she had, therefore, given him an absolute refusal.
Her father doated on her, and had not pressed the matter farther, though
he was desirous of forming an alliance so advantageous to his trade; and
the Baskir had returned to his own country in the month of August to
gather the crops of hemp and rye. But winter passed away, and the heats
of June had scarcely been felt before Aphanassi had again appeared, with
an immense quantity of bales of rich _doubas_, Chinese belts, and
kaftans, and a herd of more than five hundred horses; he came, in fact,
surrounded with all his splendour, and renewed again his offers and his
entreaties. Old Michael was nearly gained by his offers, and Daria was
in despair, for she was about to be sacrificed to gain, and she detested
Aphanassi more than she had done the year before.

I listened to her with strong emotion, pitied her sorrows, which had so
easily procured me her confidence, and when she left me, she was less
afflicted than before.

The next day I returned to the spot where I had seen her, and found her
again; she received me with a smile. Aphanassi had not come that
morning, and Daria, probably thinking that I would come back to the
spot, had come to ask me what she ought to reply to him, as well as to
her father. I gave her my advice with a strong feeling of interest, and
convinced that pity would henceforward open to me the road to her heart,
I tried to become acquainted with her family. The same evening I bought
some things from old Michael, and flattering him on his judgment and
experience, endeavoured to lay the foundation of intimacy.

During several days I went regularly to the same spot, and almost always
found Daria, as if we had appointed a meeting. Her melancholy increased;
every time she saw me she asked for further advice, and although she
showed me nothing but confidence, yet the habit of seeing her, of
deploring her situation, of having near me a young and beautiful woman,
after hearing for many, many months no other voices than the rough ones
of officers, soldiers, and smiths--all these circumstances affected my
heart with unusual emotion.

The sight of Daria reminded me of the circumstances of my first love;
and these recollections, in their turn, embellished Daria with all their
charms.

One day she said to me:

"You have seen Aphanassi this morning at my father's; don't you think he
is very rough, and has an ugly, ill-natured countenance?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Well, I will show you whom I prefer to him." She smiled in saying this,
and I was powerfully affected, as if she had been about to say, "You are
the man!" She then threw back the gauze veil that flowed from her
head-dress, and instantly, at a certain signal, a young man sprung from
behind the trees and cried out to me:

"Thank you, Frenchman, for your good advice! I am Wassili, the friend of
Daria!"

This sight perfectly confounded me. So close to love, and to be nothing
but a confidant after all! I blushed for shame, but Daria soon
dispelled this impulse of ill-humour. She said to me:

"Wassili, whom I have never mentioned to you, is my friend; I was
desirous of making you acquainted with him. But he was jealous because
you gave me consolation and I wished him to remain concealed from you,
that he might be convinced by your language of the worthiness of your
sentiments. Wassili will love you as I do; stranger, still give us your
advice!"

The words of Daria calmed my trouble; and I felt happy that, at a
thousand leagues from my native land, in the bosom of an enemy's
country, I was bound by no tie to a foreign soil, but could still afford
consolation to two beings in misfortune.

Wassili was handsome and amiable; he was also wealthy; but Aphanassi was
much more so, and old Michael, though formerly flattered with the
attentions of Wassili to his daughter, now rejected them with disdain.
We agreed upon a plan of attack against the Baskir. I talked to Michael
several times on the subject, and tried to arrange their differences;
but it was of no avail.

Meanwhile took place the feast of St. John, the patron saint of
Tchornaïa, which assembled all the inhabitants of the neighbouring
villages.

Early in the morning of the holiday, the whole of the inhabitants,
dressed in their finest clothes, get into a number of little narrow
boats, made of a single tree, like the canoes of the South Sea savages.
A man is placed in the middle with one oar in his hands, and strikes the
water first on one side and then on the other, and makes the boat move
forward with great velocity. These frail skiffs are all in a line, race
against each other, and perform a variety of evolutions on the lake. The
women are placed at the bow and stern, and sing national songs, while
the men are engaged in a variety of exercises and amusements on the
shore. A large barge, carrying the heads of the village and the most
distinguished inhabitants, contains a band of music, whose harmony
contrasts with the songs that are heard from the other boats.

Beautiful weather usually prevails at this season, and the day closes
with dances and suppers in the open air; and the lake of Tchornaïa,
naturally of a solitary aspect, becomes all at once full of life and
animation, and presents an enchanting prospect.

Wassili had got several boats ready, which were filled with musicians,
who attracted general attention, and were soon followed by almost all
the skiffs in the same way as the gondolas in the Venetian lagoons
follow the musical amateurs who sing during the night. Wassili knew that
Michael would be flattered to hear an account of the success he had
obtained: but Aphanassi had also come to the festival. As soon as he
learned that the musicians of Wassili were followed by the crowd, and
that his rival's name was in every one's mouth, he collected twenty of
his finest horses, covered them with rich stuffs, and, as soon as the
sports on the lake were over, began, by the sound of Tartar music, a
series of races on the shore, which was a novel sight in the summer
season, and was generally admired. His triumph was complete, and at
Tchornaïa nothing was talked of for several days but the races on the
shore of the lake, and the Baskir's influence with Michael increased
considerably.

The grief of Daria made her father suspect that she met Wassili out of
the house, and he confined her at home. I saw none but the young man,
whose communications were far from being so pleasing to me as those of
Daria. Towards the end of July he informed me that Aphanassi had made
another attempt to get her from her father; but that the old man was so
overcome with her despair that he had only agreed that the marriage
should take place the ensuing summer, delaying the matter under the
pretext of getting her portion ready, but, in truth, to give her time to
make up her mind to follow the Baskir.

About this period Wassili was sent by M. Demidoff's agent, at the head
of a body of workmen, to the centre of the Ural Mountains to cut down
trees and burn them into charcoal. He was not to return till the middle
of September. During his absence I saw Daria almost daily; she had lost
the brilliancy of her look, but it seemed to me that her beauty was
increased, her countenance had assumed such an expression of melancholy.
I had gradually obtained the goodwill of Michael, and dispelled, as far
as lay in my power, the sorrows of his daughter. I was a foreigner, a
prisoner, little to be feared, and pretty well off in regard to money,
so that Michael felt no alarm at seeing me, and neglected no opportunity
of showing me his goodwill.

I received a strong proof of this about the middle of August. He brought
me to a family festival that takes place at the gathering of the
cabbage, and to which women only are usually admitted; it is, in fact,
their vintage season.

On the day that a family is to gather in their cabbage, which they salt
and lay up for the winter season, the women invite their female friends
and neighbours to come and assist them. On the evening before, they cut
the cabbages from the stem, and pull off the outside leaves and earth
that may be adhering to them. On the grand day, at the house where the
cabbages are collected, the women assemble, dressed in their most
brilliant manner, and armed with a sort of cleaver, with a handle in the
centre, more or less ornamented, according to the person's rank. They
place themselves round a kind of trough containing the cabbages. The old
women give the signal for action; two of the youngest girls take their
places in the middle of the room, and begin to dance a kind of
allemande, while the rest of the women sing national songs, and keep
time in driving their knives into the trough. When the girls are tired
with dancing, two more take their place, always eager to surpass the
former by the grace with which they make their movements. The songs
continue without intermission, and the cabbages are thus cut up in the
midst of a ball, which lasts from morning till night. Meanwhile, the
married women carry on the work, salt the cabbages, and carefully pack
them in barrels. In the evening the whole party sit down to supper,
after which only the men are admitted, but even then they remain apart
from the women. Glasses of wine and punch go round, dancing begins in a
more general manner, and they withdraw at a late hour, to begin the same
amusement at another neighbour's till all the harvest is finished.

Amidst all these young girls Daria always seemed to me the most amiable!
she danced when called upon by her mother; her motions expressed
satisfaction, and her eyes, scarcely refraining from tears, turned
towards the stranger, who alone knew her real situation, though amidst
so many indifferent people who called themselves her friends.

Towards the end of September, Wassili returned from the woods. Daria had
a prospect of several months before her before the return of Aphanassi,
if ever he should return at all; and she gave herself up to her love
with pleasing improvidence.

At this period there came to Tchornaïa two Russian officers, with
several sergeants, who were much more like Cossacks than regular
soldiers. Their appearance was the signal of universal mourning--they
came to recruit. They proclaimed, in the Emperor's name, that on a
certain day all the men in the district, whatever their age might be,
were to assemble in the public square, there to be inspected.

At the appointed day every one was on the spot; but it was easy to see
by their looks that it was with the utmost repugnance that they had
obeyed. All the women were placed on the other side, and anxiously
waited for the result of the inspection, and some of them were crying
bitterly. I was present at this scene. The officers placed the men in
two rows, and passed along the ranks very slowly. Now and then they
touched a man, and he was immediately taken to a little group that was
formed in the centre of the square. When they had run over the two rows,
they again inspected the men that had been set apart, made them walk and
strip, _verified_ them, in a word, such as our recruiting _councils_ did
in our departments for many years. When a man was examined he was
allowed to go, when the crowd raised a shout of joy; or he was
immediately put in irons, in presence of his family, who raised cries of
despair--this man was fit for service.

These unfortunate beings, thus chained up, were kept out of view till
the very moment of their departure. No claims were valid against the
recruiting officer; age, marriage, the duties required to be paid to an
infirm parent, were all of no avail; sometimes, indeed, it happened, and
that but rarely, that a secret arrangement with the officer, for a sum
of money, saved a young man, a husband, or a father from his caprice,
for he was bound by no rule; it often happened, also, that he marked out
for the army a young man whose wife or mistress was coveted by the
neighbouring lord, or whom injustice had irritated and rendered
suspected.

To finish this description, which has made me leave my friends out of
view, at a very melancholy period, I shall add a few more particulars.

Wassili, as I said before, was at the review; the recruiting officer
thought he would make a handsome dragoon, or a soldier of the guard,
and, having looked at him from top to toe, he declared him fit for the
army.

Whilst his family were deploring his fate, and preparing to make every
sacrifice to obtain his discharge, some one cried out that the officer
would allow him to get off because he was wealthy, but that the poor
must march.

The Russian heard this, and perhaps on the point of making a bargain,
felt irritated, and would listen to no sort of arrangement, as a
scoundrel always does when you have been on the point of buying. Wassili
was put in irons, and destined to unlimited service--that is, to an
eternal exile, for the Russian soldier is never allowed to return to his
home.[1] Daria nearly fell a victim to her grief, and only recovered
some portion of vigour when the recruits were to set out.

[Footnote 1: He is enrolled for twenty years--that is, for a
whole life.]

On that day the recruiting party gorge them with meat and brandy till
they are nearly dead drunk. They are then thrown into the sledges and
carried off, still loaded with irons. A most heart-rending scene now
takes place; every family follows them with their cries, and chants the
prayers for the dead and the dying, while the unfortunate conscripts
themselves, besotted with liquor, remain stupid and indifferent, burst
into roars of laughter, or answer their friends with oaths and
imprecations.

Notwithstanding the force that had been shown to him, Wassili had drunk
nothing, and preserved his judgment unclouded; he stretched out his arms
towards Daria, towards his friends, and towards me, and bade us adieu
with many tears. Amidst the mournful sounds that struck upon her ears,
the young girl followed him rapidly, and had time to throw herself into
his arms before the sledge set out; but the moment he was beyond her
reach, she fell backward with violence on the ice. No one paid the least
attention to her; they all rushed forward and followed the sledges of
the recruiting party, which soon galloped out of sight. I lifted Daria
up; I did not attempt to restrain her grief, but took her back to her
father's, where she was paid every attention her situation required. In
about a month's time she was able to resume her usual occupations, but
she recovered only a portion of her former self.

Winter again set in. I often saw Daria, either at her father's house, or
when she walked out on purpose to meet me, which her father allowed, in
the hope of dissipating her sorrows. How the poor girl was altered since
the departure of Wassili! How many sad things the young Siberian told me
when our sledges glided together along the surface of the lake! What
melancholy there was in her language, and superstition in her belief!

I attempted to dissipate her sombre thoughts; but I soon perceived that
everything brought them back to her mind, and that the sight of this
savage nature, whose solitude affected my own thoughts with sorrow,
contributed to increase her melancholy. Within her own dwelling she was
less agitated, but more depressed; her fever was then languid, and her
beautiful face despoiled of that expression, full of agreeable
recollections, that animated her in our private conversation. These
walks could only make her worse, and I endeavoured to avoid them. She
understood my meaning. "Go," said she, "kind Frenchman, you are taking
fruitless care; Wassili has taken my life away with him; it cannot
return any more than he can."

I still continued to see her frequently. Old Michael was unhappy because
she wept on hearing even the name of Aphanassi; he foresaw that it would
be out of his power to have this wealthy man for his son-in-law, for his
promises had gained his heart long ago. However this may be, he made his
preparations in secret, bought fine silks, and ordered a magnificent
diadem to be made for his daughter. She guessed his object, and once
said to me, "My father is preparing a handsome ornament for me; it is
intended for the last time I shall be at church; let him make haste, for
Daria won't keep him waiting."

About the middle of June Aphanassi returned, more in love and more eager
than ever, and, as soon as he appeared, the daughter of Michael was
attacked by a burning fever that never left her. In a few days she was
at the gates of death. All the care bestowed upon her was of no avail,
and she died pronouncing the name of Wassili.

Full of profound grief, I followed her body to the church of the
Stareobratzi, at Nishnei-Taguil. It had been dressed in her finest
clothing, and she was placed in the coffin with her face uncovered. The
relations, friends, and members of the same church were present. The men
were ranged on one side, and the women on the other. After a funeral
hymn, in the language of the country, the priest, who was bare-headed,
pronounced the eulogium of the defunct. His grey hair, long beard,
Asiatic gown, and loud sobs, gave his discourse a peculiar solemnity.
When it was finished, every one came forward silently to bid farewell to
Daria, and kiss her hand. I went like the rest; like them I went alone
towards the coffin, took hold of the hand I had so often pressed, and
gave it the last farewell kiss.



PLUCK, PERIL & ADVENTURE.



MARJORIE MAY: A WILFUL YOUNG WOMAN.

BY EVELYN EVERETT-GREEN.


"How perfectly delightful! Just fancy riding along those lovely sands,
and seeing real live Bedouins on their horses or camels! I declare I see
camels padding along now! I wish it wouldn't get dark so fast. But the
city will look lovely when the moon is up."

"Is it quite safe?" asked a lady passenger, eager for the proposed
excursion, but a little timid in such strange surroundings. For Mogador
seemed like the ends of the earth to her. She had never been for a sea
voyage before.

"Oh, yes; safe enough, or Captain Taylor would never have arranged it.
Of course, it might not be safe to go quite alone; but a party
together--why, it's as safe as Regent Street."

"What is this excursion they are all talking about?" asked Marjorie May,
who had been standing apart in the bow of the boat, trying to dash in
the effect of the sunset lights upon the solemn, lonely African
mountains, with the white city sleeping on the edge of the sea,
surrounded by its stretch of desert. It was too dark for further
sketching, and the first bell had sounded for dinner. She joined the
group of passengers, eagerly discussing the proposed jaunt for the
morrow. Several voices answered her.

"Oh, the captain is going to arrange a sort of picnic for us to-morrow.
We have all day in harbour, you know, and part of the next. So to-morrow
we are to go ashore and take donkeys, and ride out along the shore there
for several miles, to some queer place or other, where they will arrange
lunch for us; and we can wander about and see the place, and get back on
board in time for dinner; and next day we can see the town. That only
takes an hour or so. We leave after lunch, but it will give plenty of
time."

"I think the town sounds more interesting than the donkey-rides," said
Marjorie. "I had not time to sketch in Tangiers, except just a few
figures dashed off anyhow. I must make some studies of the Arabs and
Nubians and Bedouins here. I shan't get another chance. This is the last
African port we stop at."

"Oh, I daresay you'll have plenty of time for sketching," answered her
cabin companion to whom she had spoken; "but I wouldn't miss the ride if
I were you. It'll be quite a unique experience."

The dinner-bell rang, and the company on board the _Oratava_ took their
seats in the pleasant upper deck saloon, where there was fresh air to be
had, and glimpses through the windows of the darkening sky, the rising
moon and brightening stars.

Marjorie's next-door neighbours were, on one side, the lady whose cabin
she shared, on the other a Mr. Stuart, with whom she waged a frequent
warfare. He was an experienced traveller, whilst she was quite
inexperienced; and sometimes he had spoken to her with an air of
authority which she resented, had nipped in the bud some pet project of
hers, or had overthrown some cherished theory by the weight of his
knowledge of stern facts.

But he had been to Mogador before, and Marjorie condescended to-night to
be gracious and ask questions. She was keenly interested in what she
heard. There was a Jewish quarter in the city as well as the Arab one.
There was a curious market. The whole town was very curious, being all
built in arcades and squares. It was not the least like Tangiers, he
told her, which was the only African town Marjorie had yet visited. This
cruise of the _Oratava_ had been a little unfortunate. The surf had been
so heavy along the coast, that the passengers had not been able to land
at any port of call since leaving Tangiers. They had had perforce to
remain upon the vessel whilst cargo was being taken on and shipped off.
But the sea had now calmed down. The restless Atlantic was quieting
itself. The vessel at anchor in the little harbour scarcely moved. The
conditions were all favourable for good weather, and the passengers were
confident of their pleasure trip on the morrow.

As Marjorie heard Mr. Stuart's description of the old town--one of the
most ancient in Africa--she was more and more resolved not to waste
precious moments in a stupid donkey-ride across the desert. Of course it
would be interesting in its way; but she had had excellent views of the
desert at several ports, whereas the interior of the old city was a
thing altogether new.

"I suppose it's quite a safe place?" she asked carelessly; and Mr.
Stuart answered at once:

"Oh, yes, perfectly safe. There are several English families living in
it. I lived there a year once. Of course, a stranger lady would not walk
about there alone; she might get lost in the perplexing arcades, and
Arab towns are never too sweet or too suitable for a lady to go about in
by herself. But I shall go and look up my friends there. It's safe
enough in that sense."

Marjorie's eyes began to sparkle under their long lashes. A plan was
fermenting in her brain.

"I think I shall spend my day there sketching," she said.

"All right; only you mustn't be alone," answered Mr. Stuart in his
rather imperious way. "You'd better take Colquhoun and his sister along
with you. They're artists, and he knows something of the language and
the ways of the Arabs."

A mutinous look came over Marjorie's face. She was not going to join
company with Mr. and Miss Colquhoun any more. She had struck up a rather
impulsive friendship with them at the outset of the voyage, but now she
could not bear them. It was not an exceptional experience with her. She
was eager to be friends with all the world; but again and again she
discovered that too promiscuous friendship was not always wise. It had
been so in this case, and Mr. Colquhoun had gone too far in some of his
expressions of admiration. Marjorie had discovered that his views were
much too lax to please her. She had resolved to have very little more to
do with them for the future. To ask to join them on the morrow, even if
they were going sketching, was a thing she could not and would not
condescend to.

No, her mind was quickly made up. It was all nonsense about its not
being safe. Why, there were English families and agents living in the
place, and she would never be silly and lose herself or her head. She
would land with the rest. There were about five-and-twenty passengers,
and all of them would go ashore, and most would probably go for the
donkey-ride into the desert. But she would quietly slip away, and nobody
would be anxious. Some would think she had gone with the Colquhouns, who
always sketched, or perhaps with Mr. Stuart, who had taken care of her
in Tangiers. She was an independent member of society--nobody's especial
charge. In the crowded streets of an Arab town nothing would be easier
than to slip away from the party soon after landing; and then she would
have a glorious day of liberty, wandering about, and making her own
studies and sketches, and joining the rest at the appointed time, when
they would be going back to the ship.

So Marjorie put her paints and sketching pad up, provided herself with
everything needful, and slept happily in her narrow berth, eagerly
waiting for the morrow, when so many new wonders would be revealed.

The morning dawned clear and fair, and Marjorie was early on deck,
watching with delight the beautiful effects of light as the sun rose
over the solemn mountains and lighted up the wide, lonely desert wastes.
She could see the caravans of camels coming citywards, could watch the
sunbeams falling upon the white walls, domes, and flat roofs of the
ancient town. She watched the cargo boats coming out with their loads,
and the familiar rattle of the steam crane and the shouts of the men
were in her ears. The deck was alive with curious forms of Arabs come to
display their wares. A turbaned man in one of the boats below was
eagerly offering a splendid-looking, sable-black Nubian for sale, and
Mr. Colquhoun was amusing himself by chaffering as though he meant to
buy, which he could have done for the sum of eight pounds; for there is
a slave market yet in Mogador, where men and women are driven in like
cattle to be bought and sold.

A duck had escaped from the steward's stores and was triumphantly
disporting himself in the green water. The steward had offered a reward
of half a dozen empty soda-water bottles to the person who would
recapture the bird, and two boats were in hot pursuit, whilst little
brown Arab boys kept diving in to try to swim down the agile duck, who,
however, succeeded in dodging them all with a neatness and sense of
humour that evoked much applause from the on-lookers. Marjorie heard
afterwards that it took three hours to effect the capture, and that at
least a dozen men or boys had taken part in it, but the reward offered
had amply contented them for their time and trouble.

Breakfast was quickly despatched that morning. Marjorie was almost too
excited to eat. She was full of delightful anticipations of a romantic,
independent day. Mr. Stuart's voice interrupted the pleasant current of
her thoughts.

"Would you like to come with me, Miss May? My friends would be very
pleased, I am sure. We could show you the town, and you would be sure of
a good lunch." He added the last words a little mischievously, because
Marjorie was often annoyed at the persistent way in which people made
everything subservient to meals. A bit of bread and a few dates or an
orange seemed to her quite sufficient sustenance between a ship's
breakfast and dinner.

But such a commonplace way of spending a day was not in the least in
accord with Marjorie's views. She thought she knew exactly what it would
be like to go with Mr. Stuart--a hurried walk through the town, an
introduction to a family of strangers, who would wish her anywhere else,
the obligation to sit still in a drawing-room or on a verandah whilst
Mr. Stuart told all the news from England, and then the inevitable
lunch, with only time for a perfunctory examination of the city. She
would not have minded seeing one of the houses where the English
families lived, but she could not sacrifice her day just for that.

"Oh, thank you, but I have made my plans," she answered quickly; "I must
do some sketching. I've not done half as much as I intended when I
started. I am a professional woman, you know, Mr. Stuart; I can't amuse
myself all day like you."

This was Marjorie's little bit of revenge for some of Mr. Stuart's
remarks to her at different times, when she had chosen to think that he
was making game of her professional work.

Marjorie was not exactly dependent upon her pencil and brush. She had a
small income of her own; but she would not have been able to live as she
did, or to enjoy the occasional jaunts abroad in which her soul
delighted, had it not been that she had won for herself a place as
illustrator upon one or two magazines. This trip was taken partly with a
view to getting new subjects for the illustration of a story, a good
deal of which was laid abroad and in the East. An Eastern tour was
beyond Marjorie's reach; but she had heard of these itinerary trips by
which for the modest sum of twenty guineas, she could travel as a
first-class passenger and see Gibraltar, Tangiers, several African
ports, including Mogador, the Canary Islands, and Madeira, and be back
again in London within the month. She was a good sailor, and even the
Bay had no terrors for her; so she had enjoyed herself to the full the
whole time. But she had not done as much work upon Arab subjects as she
had hoped, and she was resolved not to let this day be wasted.

Mr. Stuart would have offered advice; but Marjorie was in one of her
contrary moods, and was afraid of his ending by joining her, and
sacrificing his own day for her sake. She had a vaguely uneasy feeling
that what she intended to do would not be thought quite "proper," and
that Mr. Stuart would disapprove rather vehemently. She was quite
resolved not to allow Mr. Stuart's prejudices to influence her. What was
he to her that she should care for his approval or good opinion? After
the conclusion of the voyage she would never see him again. She never
wanted to, she said sometimes to herself, rather angrily; he was an
interfering kind of autocratic man, for whom she felt a considerable
dislike--and yet, somehow, Marjorie was occasionally conscious that she
thought more about Mr. Stuart than about all the rest of the passengers
put together.

It was very interesting getting off in the boats, and being rowed to the
city by the shouting, gesticulating Arabs. Marjorie liked the masterful
way of the captain and ship's officers with these dusky denizens of the
desert. They seemed to be so completely the lords of creation, yet were
immensely popular with the swarms of natives, who hung about the ship
the whole time she was in harbour. The quay was alive with picturesque
figures as they approached; but they did not land there. They passed
under an archway into a smaller basin, and were rowed across this to
another landing-place, where the same swarms of curious spectators
awaited them.

Marjorie's fingers were itching after brush and pencil. Everything about
her seemed a living picture, but for the moment she was forced to remain
with her fellow-passengers; and Mr. Stuart walked beside her, vainly
offering to carry her impedimenta.

"No, thank you," answered Marjorie briskly; "I like to have my own
things myself. I am not used to being waited on. Besides, you are going
to your friends. Oh, what a curious place! what big squares! And it's so
beautifully clean too! Call Arab towns dirty? Why, there's no dirt
anywhere; and oh, look at those people over yonder! What are they
doing?"

"Washing their clothes by treading on them. They always chant that sort
of sing-song whilst they are trampling them in the water. That is the
custom-house yonder, where they are taking the cargo we have just sent
off. Now we must go through the gate, and so into the town; but you will
find it all like this--one square or arcade leading into another by
gateways at the end. That's the distinguishing feature of Mogador, and
you will find some of them pretty dirty, though it's more dust than mud
this time of year."

Marjorie was enchanted by everything she saw. She only wished Mr. Stuart
would take himself off, for she saw no chance of slipping away
unobserved if he were at her side. Luckily for her, a young man came
hurriedly to meet them from somewhere in the opposite direction, and,
greeting Mr. Stuart with great effusion, carried him off forthwith,
whilst Marjorie hurried along after the rest of the party.

But they had no intention of exploring the wonderful old town that day.
They turned into a little side street, where there was nothing
particular to see, but where, outside the agent's office, a number of
donkeys were waiting. Marjorie caught hold of Miss Craven, her cabin
companion, and said hastily:

"I'm not going this ride; I don't care for being jolted on a donkey,
with only a pack of straw for a saddle and a rope for a bridle. I must
get some sketches done. The Colquhouns are going to sketch. I can find
them if I want. Don't let anybody bother about me. I'll join you in time
to go back to the boat at five."

"Well, take care of yourself," said Miss Craven, "and don't wander about
alone, for it's a most heathenish-looking place. But you will be all
right with the Colquhouns."

"Oh, yes," answered Marjorie, turning away with a burning face. She
felt rather guilty, as though she had gone near to speaking an untruth,
although no actual falsehood had passed her lips. Nobody heeded her as
she slipped through the crowd of donkey boys and onlookers. Some offered
her their beasts, but she smiled and shook her head, and hurried back to
the main route through the larger arcades. Once there, she went
leisurely, eagerly looking into shop doors, watching the brass-beating,
the hand-loom weaving, and dashing off little pencil sketches of the
children squatting at their tasks, or walking to or fro as they
performed some winding operations for an older person seated upon the
floor.

Nobody molested her in any way or seemed to notice her much. Sometimes a
shopkeeper would offer her his wares in dumb show; but Marjorie had very
little money with her, and, knowing nothing of the value of these
things, was not to be tempted.

The sun poured down hot and strong, but there was shade to be had in
these arcaded streets; and though some of them were anything but clean
or sweet, Marjorie forgave everything for the sake of the beauty and
picturesqueness of the scene. She wandered here, there, and all over;
she found herself in the long, straggling market, and made hasty
sketches of the men and women chaffering at their stalls; of camels,
with their strange, sleepy, or vicious faces, padding softly along,
turning their heads this way and that. She watched the lading of the
beasts, and heard their curious grunts of anger or remonstrance when the
load exceeded their approval. Everything was full of attraction for her,
and she only waited till she had explored the place to set herself down
and make some coloured sketches.

She soon had a following of small boys and loiterers, all interested in
the doings of the strange lady with her sketchbook, but Marjorie did not
mind that. She made some of the children stand to her, and got several
rather effective groups.

Then she set herself to work in greater earnest. She obtained a seat in
one or two places, and dashed in rapid coloured studies which she could
work upon afterwards. Her _forte_ was for bold effects rather than for
detail, and the strange old city gave her endless subjects. She did not
heed the flight of time. She passed from spot to spot, with her
following growing larger and larger, more and more curious: and so
engrossed was she in her task, that the lengthening of the shadows and
the dipping of the sun behind the walls did not attract her attention.
It was only when she suddenly found herself enveloped in the
quick-coming, semi-tropical shades of darkness that she realised the
necessity to beat a retreat.

She rose quickly and put up her things. There was a ring many deep about
her of curious natives, Arabs, Moors, Jews, Turks--she knew not how many
nationalities were gathered together in that circle. In the broad light
of day she had felt no qualm of uneasiness at the strange dusky faces.
Nobody had molested her, and Marjorie, partly through temperament,
partly through ignorance, had been perfectly fearless in this strange
old city. But with the dimness of evening gathering, she began to wish
herself safe on board the _Oratava_ again; and though she retained her
air of serene composure, she felt a little inward tremor as she moved
away.

The crowd did not attempt to hold her back, but walked with her in a
sort of compact bodyguard; and amongst themselves there was a great deal
of talking and gesticulating, which sounded very heathenish and a little
threatening to Marjorie.

She had realised before that Mogador was a larger place than she had
thought, and now she began to discover that she had no notion of the
right way to the quay. The arcades hemmed her in. She could see nothing
but walls about her and the ever-increasing crowd dogging her steps. Her
heart was beating thick and fast. She was tired and faint from want of
food, and this sudden and unfamiliar sense of fear robbed her of her
customary self-command and courage. She felt more like bursting into
tears than she ever remembered to have done before.

It was no good going on like this, wandering helplessly about in the
darkening town; she must do something and that quickly. Surely some of
these people knew a few words of English.

She stopped and faced them, and asked if nobody could take her to the
ship. Instantly they crowded round her, pointing and gesticulating; but
whether they understood, and what they meant, Marjorie could not
imagine. She remembered the name of the ship's agents, and spoke that
aloud several times, and there were more cries and more crowding and
gesticulation. Each man seemed struggling to get possession of her, and
Marjorie grew so frightened at the strange sounds, and the fierce
faces--as they seemed to her--and the gathering darkness, that she
completely lost her head. She looked wildly round her, gave a little
shrill cry of terror, and seeing the ring thinner in one place than
another, she made a dart through it, and began to run as if for her very
life. It was the maddest thing to do. Hitherto there had been no real
danger. Nobody had any thought of molesting the English lady, though her
behaviour had excited much curiosity. Anybody would have taken her down
to the quay, as they all knew where she came from. But this head-long
flight first startled them, and then roused that latent demon of
savagery which lies dormant in every son of the desert. Instantly, with
yells which sounded terrific in Marjorie's ears, they gave chase. Fear
lent her wings, but she heard the pursuit coming nearer and nearer. She
knew not where she was flying, whether towards safety or into the heart
of danger. Her breath came in sobbing gasps, her feet slipped and seemed
as though they would carry her no farther. The cries behind and on all
sides grew louder and fiercer. She was making blindly for the entrance
to the arcade. Each moment she expected to feel a hand grasping her from
the rear. There was no getting away from her pursuers in these terrible
arcades. Oh, why had she ever trusted herself alone in this awful old
city!

She darted through the archway, and then, uttering a faint cry, gave
herself up for lost, for she felt herself grasped tightly in a pair of
powerful arms, and all the terrible stories she had heard from
fellow-passengers about Europeans taken captive in Morocco, and put up
for ransom recurred to her excited fancy. She had nobody to ransom her.
She would be left to languish and die in some awful Moorish prison.
Perhaps nobody would ever know of her fate. That was what came of always
doing as one chose, and making one's friends believe a falsehood.

Like a lightning flash all this passed through Marjorie's mind. The next
instant she felt herself thrust against the wall. Some tall, dark figure
was standing in front of her, and a masterful English voice speaking
fluent Arabic was haranguing her pursuers in stern and menacing accents.

A sob of wonder and relief escaped Marjorie's white lips. She had not
fallen into the hands of the Moors. Mr. Stuart had caught her, was
protecting her, and when the mists cleared away from her eyes she saw
that the crowd was quickly melting away, and she knew that she was safe.

"Take my arm, Miss May," said Mr. Stuart; "they have sent back a boat
for you from the ship. Captain Taylor is making inquiries for you too.
Had you not been warned that a lady was not safe alone in Mogador--at
least, not after nightfall?"

Marjorie hung her head; tears were dropping silently. She felt more
humiliated than she had ever done in her life before. Suppose Mr. Stuart
had not come? It was a thought she could not bear to pursue.

They reached the boat. The captain listened to the story, and he spoke
with some grave severity to Marjorie, as he had a right to do; for he
had done everything to provide for the safety of his passengers, and it
was not right to him, or the company, for a wilful girl to run into
needless peril out of the waywardness of her heart.

Marjorie accepted the reproof with unwonted humility, and Mr. Stuart
suddenly spoke up for her:

"She will not do it again, captain; I will answer for her."

"All right, Mr. Stuart; I don't want to say any more. All's well that's
ends well; but----"

He checked further words, but Marjorie's cheeks whitened. She seemed to
see again those strange, fierce faces, and hear the cries of her
pursuers. In the gathering darkness Mr. Stuart put out his hand and took
firm hold of hers. She started for a moment, and then let it lie in his
clasp. Indeed, she felt her own fingers clinging to that strong hand,
and a thrill went through her as she felt his clasp tighten upon them.

They reached the side of the vessel; officers and passengers were
craning over to get news of the missing passenger.

"Here she is, all safe!" cried the captain rather gruffly, and a little
cry of relief went up, followed by a cheer.

Mr. Stuart leant forward in the darkness and whispered:

"You see what a commotion you have made, Marjorie, I think you will have
to let me answer for you, and take care of you in the future."

"I think I shall," she answered, with a little tremulous laugh that was
half a sob, and in the confusion of getting the boat brought up
alongside Marjorie felt a lover's kiss upon her cheek.



FOURTH COUSINS.

BY GORDON STABLES, M.D., R.N.


In the early summer of 1860 I went upon a visit to a distant relative of
mine, who lived in one of the Shetland Islands. It was early summer with
myself then: I was a medical student with life all before me--life and
hope, and joy and sorrow as well. I went north with the intention of
working hard, and took quite a small library with me; there was nothing
in the shape of study I did not mean to do, and to drive at: botany, the
_flora_ of the _Ultima Thule_, its _fauna_ and geology, too, to say
nothing of chemistry and therapeutics. So much for good intentions,
but--I may as well confess it as not--I never once opened my huge box of
books during the five months I lived at R----, and if I studied at all
it was from the book of Nature, which is open to every one who cares to
con its pages.

The steamboat landed me at Lerwick, and I completed my journey--with my
boxes--next day in an open boat.

It was a very cold morning, with a grey, cold, choppy sea on, the spray
from which dashed over the boat, wetting me thoroughly, and making me
feel pinched, blear-eyed, and miserable. I even envied the seals I saw
cosily asleep in dry, sandy caves, at the foot of the black and beetling
rocks.

How very fantastic those rocks were, but cheerless--so cheerless! Even
the sea birds that circled around them seemed screaming a dirge. An
opening in a wall of rock took us at length into a long, winding fiord,
or arm of the sea, with green bare fields on every side, and wild,
weird-like sheep that gazed on us for a moment, then bleated and fled.
Right at the end of this rock stood my friend's house, comfortable and
solid-looking, but unsheltered by a single tree.

"I sha'n't stay long here," I said to myself, as I landed.

An hour or two afterwards I had changed my mind entirely. I was seated
in a charmingly and cosily-furnished drawing-room upstairs. The windows
looked out to and away across the broad Atlantic. How strange it was;
for the loch that had led me to the front of the house, and the waters
of which rippled up to the very lawn, was part of the German Ocean, and
here at the back, and not a stone's throw distant, was the Atlantic! Its
great, green, dark billows rolled up and broke into foam against the
black breastwork of cliffs beneath us; the immense depth of its waves
could be judged of by keeping the eye fixed upon the tall, steeple-like
rocks which shot up here and there through the water a little way out to
sea: at one moment these would appear like lofty spires, and next they
would be almost entirely swallowed up.

Beside the fire, in an easy chair, sat my grey-haired old relation and
host, and, not far off, his wife. Hospitable, warm-hearted, and genial
both of them were. If marriages really are made in heaven, I could not
help thinking theirs must have been, so much did they seem each other's
counterpart.

Presently Cousin Maggie entered, smiling to me as she did so; her left
hand lingered fondly for a moment on her father's grey locks, then she
sat down unbidden to the piano. My own face was partially shaded by the
window curtain, so that I could study that of my fair cousin as she
played without appearing rude. Was she beautiful? that was the question
I asked myself, and was trying hard to answer. Every feature of her face
was faultless, her mouth and ears were small, she had a wealth of rich,
deep auburn hair, and eyes that seemed to have borrowed the noonday
tints of a summer sea, so bright, so blue were they. But was she
beautiful? I could not answer the question then.

On the strength of my blood relationship, distant though it was, for we
were really only third or fourth cousins, I was made a member of this
family from the first, and Maggie treated me as a brother. I was not
entirely pleased with the latter arrangement, because many days had not
passed ere I concluded it would be a pleasant pastime for me to make
love to Cousin Maggie. But weeks went by, and my love-making was still
postponed; it became a _sine die_ kind of a probability. Maggie was
constantly with me when out of doors--my companion in all my fishing and
shooting trips. But she carried not only a rod but even a rifle herself,
she could give me lessons in casting the fly--and did; she often shot
dead the seals that I had merely wounded, and her prowess in rowing
astonished me, and her daring in venturing so far to sea in our broad,
open boat often made me tremble for our safety.

A frequent visitor for the first two months of my stay at R---- was a
young and well-to-do farmer and fisher, who came in his boat from a
neighbouring island, always accompanied by his sister, and they usually
stayed a day or two. I was not long in perceiving that this Mr.
Thorforth was very fond of my cousin; the state of her feelings towards
him it was some time before I could fathom, but the revelation came at
last, and quite unexpectedly.

There was an old ruin some distance from the house, where, one lovely
moonlight night, I happened to be seated alone. I was not long alone,
however; from a window I could see my cousin and Thorforth coming
towards the place, and, thinking to surprise them, I drew back under the
shadow of a portion of the wall. But I was not to be an actor in that
scene, though it was one I shall never forget. I could not see _his_
face, but hers, on which the moonbeams fell, was pained,
half-frightened, impatient. He was telling her he loved her and asking
her to love him in return. She stopped him at last.

What she said need not be told. In a few moments he was gone, and she
was standing where he left her, following him with pitying eyes as he
walked hurriedly away.

Next day Magnus Thorforth said goodbye and left: even his sister looked
sad. She must have known it all. I never saw them again.

One day, about a month after this, Maggie and I were together in a cave
close by the ocean--a favourite haunt of ours on hot forenoons. Our boat
was drawn up close by, the day was bright, and the sea calm, its tiny
wavelets making drowsy, dreamy music on the yellow sands.

She had been reading aloud, and I was gazing at her face.

"I begin to think you are beautiful," I said.

She looked down at me where I lay with those innocent eyes of hers, that
always looked into mine as frankly as a child's would.

"I'm not sure," I continued, "that I sha'n't commence making love to
you, and perhaps I might marry you. What would you think of that?"

"Love!" she laughed, as musically as a sea-nymph--"love? Love betwixt a
cousin and a cousin? Preposterous!"

"I daresay," I said, pretending to pout, "you wouldn't marry me because
I'm poor."

"Poor!" she repeated, looking very firm and earnest now; "if the man I
loved were poor, I'd carry a creel for him--I'd gather shells for his
sake; but I don't love anybody and don't mean to. Come."

So that was the beginning and end of my love-making for Cousin Maggie.

And Maggie had said she never meant to love any one. Well, we never can
tell what may be in our immediate future.

Hardly had we left the cave that day, and put off from the shore, ere
cat's-paws began to ruffle the water. They came in from the west, and
before we had got half-way to the distant headland a steady breeze was
blowing. We had hoisted our sail, and were running before it with the
speed of a gull on the wing.

Once round the point, we had a beam wind till we entered the fiord,
then we had to beat to windward all the way home, by which time it was
blowing quite a gale.

It went round more to the north about sunset, and then, for the first
time, we noticed a yacht of small dimensions on the distant horizon. Her
intention appeared to be that of rounding the island, and probably
anchoring on the lee side of it. She was in an ugly position, however,
and we all watched her anxiously till nightfall hid her from our view.

I retired early, but sleep was out of the question, for the wind raged
and howled around the house like wild wolves. About twelve o'clock the
sound of a gun fell on my ears. I could not be mistaken, for the window
rattled in sharp response.

I sprang from my couch and began to dress, and immediately after my aged
relative entered the room. He looked younger and taller than I had seen
him, but very serious.

"The yacht is on the Ba,"[2] he said, solemnly.

[Footnote 2: _Ba_ means a sunken rock.]

They were words to me of fearful significance. The yacht, I knew, must
soon break up, and nothing could save the crew.

I quickly followed my relative into the back drawing-room, where Maggie
was with her mother. We gazed out into the night, out and across the
sea. At the same moment, out there on the terrible Ba, a blue light
sprang up, revealing the yacht and even its people on board. She was
leaning well over to one side, her masts gone, and the spray dashing
over her.

"Come!" cried Maggie, "there is no time to lose. We can guide their boat
to the cave. Come, cousin!"

I felt dazed, thunderstruck. Was I to take active part in a forlorn
hope? Was Maggie--how beautiful and daring she looked now!--to assume
the _rôle_ of a modern Grace Darling? So it appeared.

The events of that night come back to my memory now as if they had
happened but yesterday. It is a page in my past life that can never be
obliterated.

We pulled out of the fiord, Maggie and I, and up under lee of the
island; then, on rounding the point, we encountered the whole force of
the sea and wind. There was a glimmering light on the wrecked yacht, and
for that we rowed, or rather were borne along on the gale. No boat, save
a Shetland skiff, could have been trusted in such a sea.

As we neared the Ba, steadying herself by leaning on my shoulder, Maggie
stood half up and waved the lantern, and it was answered from the wreck.
Next moment it seemed to me we were on the lee side, and Maggie herself
hailed the shipwrecked people.

"We cannot come nearer!" she cried; "lower your boat and follow our
light closely."

"Take the tiller now," she continued, addressing me, "and steer for the
light you see on the cliff. Keep her well up, though, or all will be
lost."

We waited--and that with difficulty--for a few minutes, till we saw by
the starlight that the yacht's boat was lowered, then away we went.

The light on the cliff-top moved slowly down the wind. I kept the boat's
head a point or two above it, and on she dashed. The rocks loomed black
and high as we neared them, the waves breaking in terrible turmoil
beneath.

Suddenly the light was lowered over the cliff down to the very water's
edge.

"Steady, now!" cried my brave cousin, and next moment we were round a
point and into smooth water, with the yacht's boat close beside us. The
place was partly cave, partly "_noss_." We beached our boats, and here
we remained all night, and were all rescued next morning by a
fisherman's yawl.

The yacht's people were the captain, his wife, and one boy--the whole
crew Norwegians, Brinster by name.

My story is nearly done. What need to tell of the gratitude of those
Maggie's heroism had saved from a watery grave!

But it came to pass that when, a few months afterwards, a beautiful new
yacht came round to the fiord to take those shipwrecked mariners away,
Cousin Maggie went with them on a visit.

It came to pass also that when I paid my very next visit to R---- in the
following summer, I found living at my relative's house a Major Brinster
and a Mrs. Brinster.

And Mrs. Brinster was my Cousin Maggie, and Major Brinster was my Cousin
Maggie's fate.



THE PEDLAR'S PACK.

BY LUCIE E. JACKSON.


Colonel Bingham was seated in his library facing the window that looked
out on to the green sloping lawn, the smiling meadow, and the dark belt
of firs which skirted the wood. There was a frown on his brow, and his
eyes wore a perplexed look. On the opposite side of the room stood a
young girl of seventeen balancing herself adroitly on the ridge of a
chair, and smiling with evident satisfaction at her own achievement.

The colonel was speaking irritably.

"You see, you can't even now sit still while I speak to you, but you
must poise yourself on your chair like a schoolboy. Is it a necessary
part of your existence that you must behave like a boy rather than a
girl?"

Patty hung her head shamefacedly, and the smile left her lips.

"And then, what is this that I hear about a rifle? Is it true that
Captain Palmer has lent you one?"

"Only just to practise with for a few weeks. Dad, don't be angry. He has
a new one, so he doesn't miss it. Why"--warming to her subject and
forgetting for the moment that she was in great danger of still further
disgracing herself in her father's eyes by her confession--"I can hit
even a small object at a very considerable distance five times out of
six."

The perplexed look deepened in her father's eyes, but the irritability
had cleared away. He toyed with the open letter that he held in his
hand. "I suppose it is for this as well as for your other schoolboy
pranks that your aunt has invited only Rose. But I don't like it--it is
not right. If it were not for the unfairness to Rose, I should have
refused outright. As it is, the invitation has been accepted by me, and
it must stand, for Rose must not be deprived of her pleasures because
you like----"

"Invitation! What invitation?" interrupted Patty.

"Your aunt is giving a big ball on the 13th, and she is insistent that
Rose should be present. It will be the child's first ball, and I cannot
gainsay her. But, Patty, I should like you both to go. You are
seventeen, are you not?"

"Seventeen and a half," returned Patty with a little choke in her voice.

It was the first she had heard of the invitation, and it stung her to
think that Lady Glendower thought her too much of a hoyden to invite her
with the sister who was but one year older. Patty was girl enough to
love dancing even above her other amusements, and the unbidden tears
came into her eyes as she stood looking forlornly at her father.

Colonel Bingham coughed, and tapped his writing-desk with the letter.

"Seventeen and a half," he repeated, "quite old enough to go to a ball.
Never mind, Patty, I've a good mind to give a ball myself and leave out
her younger daughter, only that it would be too much like _tu quoque_,
and your aunt has a reason for not extending her invitation here which I
should not have in relation to your cousin Fanny, eh, Patty?"

But Patty's eyes were still humid, and she could only gaze dumbly at her
father with such a pathetic look on her pretty face that Colonel Bingham
could not stand it.

"Look here, child," he said, "why aren't you more like your sister Rose?
Then her pleasures would be always yours----"

"Who's talking about me?" asked a gay voice, and into the room walked
Patty's sister Rose.

"I am. I have been telling Patty about the invitation."

"Poor Patty!" said Rose, and she put her arm sympathetically round
Patty's neck. "Aunt Glendower is most unkind, I think."

"It can't be helped," murmured Patty, choking back the rising sob. "If I
had been born a sweet maiden who did nothing but stitch at fancy-work
all day long perhaps she would have invited me, but I can't give up my
cricket, my riding my horse bare-backed, my shooting, just for the sake
of a ball or two that Aunt Glendower feels inclined to give once a year.
Much as I love dancing, I can't give up all these pleasures for an
occasional dance."

"Rose has pleasures too," said her father quietly, "but they are of the
womanly kind--music, painting, reading, tending flowers."

Rose laughed gaily as Patty turned up her pretty nose scornfully.

"Let Patty alone, dad. You know very well that you would grow tired of
too much sameness if Patty showed the same tastes that I have."

Colonel Bingham glanced fondly at her and then at Patty, whose face, in
spite of her brave words, was still very tearful-looking. He knew that
in his heart he loved his two daughters equally--his "two motherless
girls," as he was wont to call them--and although he belonged to the old
school of those who abhor masculine pursuits for women, yet he felt that
Rose's words were true, and for that very dissimilarity did he love
them.

"Heigho," said Patty, jumping off her chair, "I am not going to grieve
any more. Let's talk of Rose's dress, and when she is going."

"We both start to-morrow."

"To-morrow? And do you go too, dad?"

"Yes, Patty. I have business in town with my lawyer, which I have been
putting off from day to day, but now I feel I shall take the opportunity
of transacting it with him on the occasion of taking Rose up with me.
Besides, I can't let her go to her first ball without being there to see
how she looks."

"And what about the dress?"

"Aunt says she will see to that, so we have to start a few days before
the ball takes place for Céline to get a dress ready for me," said Rose,
looking tenderly at Patty as she spoke, for the two girls loved each
other, and it hurt her to think that Patty must be left behind.

"You won't be nervous, child?" asked her father.

"Nervous, father! dear me, no, a tomboy nervous? Why, I have Mrs.
Tucker, cook, and Fanny to bear me company, and if you take the groom we
shall still have the stable boy," returned Patty triumphantly.

"I am glad you sent away that new coachman, dad," said Rose earnestly.
"I never liked his face, it always looked so sly and sneaking."

"Yes, I am glad too, and we must endeavour to find one when we are in
town, and perhaps bring him back with us, Rose--the place is a lonely
one without a man when I am away." He spoke the last words to himself,
but the girls heard him and laughed. They knew no fear. Why should they?
Nothing had ever come near to harm them during the short years of their
existence in their country home.

Colonel Bingham had of late questioned the wisdom of continuing to live
with his daughters in his beautiful, isolated house. It was three miles
from the nearest village, post-office, and church, and there was not
another habitation within that distance; it was five miles from the
nearest market town. But his heart clung to it. Hadn't he and his bride,
twenty years before, chosen this beautiful spot of all others to build
their house upon and make it their home? Had not his wife loved every
nook and cranny, every stick and stone of the home they had beautified
within and without? And therein lay the colonel's two chief objections
to leaving the place--it was beautiful--and--his wife had loved it.

So did his daughters too, for that matter; but they were growing up, and
newer scenes and livelier surroundings were now needed for them. The
colonel often caught himself pondering over the matter, and one of the
reasons for his wishing to visit his sister was that of laying the
matter open before her, and hearing her opinion from her own lips.

At an early hour the next morning Colonel Bingham, Rose, and the groom,
with two of the horses, had left the house.

There was nothing to alarm Patty. The beautiful home with its peaceful
surroundings was perfectly quiet for the two days that followed, and if
Patty, in spite of her brave heart, had felt any qualms of fear, they
had vanished on the morning of the third day, which dawned so
brilliantly bright that she was eager to take her rifle and begin
practising at the target she herself had set up at the end of the short
wood to the left of the house.

Meanwhile, the housekeeper had set both maids to work in turning out
several unused rooms, and a great amount of brisk work was going on. The
trim housemaid, Fanny, who was the housekeeper's niece, had come down
the back stairs with an armful of carpets, and had brushed into the
flagged yard before she noticed a pedlar-like-looking man standing
before the back door with a pack upon his back.

"What do you do here?" she called out sharply.

The man appeared weighted down with his bundle, which looked to Fanny's
eyes a good deal bigger than most of the pedlars' packs that she had
seen.

"I am on my way through the country-side selling what maids most love--a
bit of ribbon, a tie, a good serviceable apron, a feather for the hat,
and many a pretty gown; but on my way from the village I met a friend
from my own part of the country, which is not in this county, but two
counties up north, who tells me that my wife is lying dangerously ill.
If I wish to see her alive I must needs travel fast, and a man can
scarce do that with as heavy a pack on his back as I bear. What I
venture to ask most respectfully is that I may place my pack in one
corner of this house, and I will return to fetch it as soon as ever I
can."

He gave a furtive dab to his eyes with the corner of a blue-checked
handkerchief he held in one hand, and hoisted his bundle up higher with
apparent difficulty.

Fanny looked gravely at him "Why didn't you leave your pack at the
village inn?" was all she said.

"I would have done so had I met my friend before leaving the village,
but I met him just at the entrance to the wood, and it seemed hopeless
to trudge all that way back with not only a heavy burden to bear, but a
still heavier heart."

He sighed miserably as he spoke, and Fanny's soft heart was touched.

The man spoke well--better than many pedlars that Fanny had met with,
and his tone was respectful, albeit very pleading. Fanny's heart was
growing softer and softer. He looked faint and weary himself, she
thought, and oh! so very sad----

"Fanny, Fanny, what are you about? Ain't those carpets finished yet?"
The housekeeper's voice sounded sharply at the top of the back
staircase.

The pedlar looked scared. Fanny beckoned him with one finger to follow
her.

"Coming, aunt," she called back. And, still silently beckoning, she
conducted the pedlar into the small breakfast-room.

"Put it down in this corner," she said, "and come for it as soon as you
can."

"May I beg that it will remain untouched," said the pedlar humbly. "It
contains many valuables--at least to me--for it comprises nearly all
that I possess in the world."

"No one will touch it in here, for this room is never used."

"I cannot thank you enough for your compassion----" began the pedlar,
when the sharp voice was heard again.

"Fanny, cook's waitin' for you to help her move some things. Are you
comin' or not?"

"Coming now," was Fanny's answer, and, shutting the breakfast-room door,
she hustled the pedlar out into the flagged yard without ceremony.

With a deferential lifting of his cap the pedlar again murmured his
grateful thanks, and made his way out the way he had come in. Fanny
waited to lock the yard gate after him, murmuring to herself: "That
gate didn't ought to have been left open--it's just like that lazy boy
Sam to think that now Britton's gone off with the horses he can do as he
likes."

It was not until the furniture in the room had been moved about to her
satisfaction that the housekeeper demanded to know the reason for
Fanny's delay downstairs.

"It isn't cook's business to be waitin' about for you," she said
sharply, "she's got her other duties to perform. What kept you?"

Then Fanny told what had caused the delay, and was aghast at the effect
it produced upon her aunt.

"I wouldn't have had it happen just now for all my year's wages," the
housekeeper exclaimed hotly. "What do we know about the man and his
pack?"

"He looked so white and quiet-like, and so sad," pleaded her niece half
tearfully.

"That's nothin' to us. I promised the master before he went away that I
wouldn't let a strange foot pass over the doorway while he was away. And
here you--a mere chit of a housemaid--go, without sayin', 'With your
leave,' or, 'By your leave,' and let a dirty pedlar with his pack
straight into the breakfast-room. He's sure to have scented the silver
lyin' on the sideboard for cleanin' this afternoon. If I didn't think
he'd gone a long way from here by this I would send you after him to
tell him to take it away again."

Having delivered herself of this long, explosive speech, the housekeeper
proceeded in the direction of the breakfast-room to review the pack, and
Fanny and the cook followed in her wake.

"As I thought," she ejaculated, eyeing the pack from the doorway, "a
dirty pedlar's smellin' pack." But the tone of her voice was mollified,
for the pack looked innocent enough, although it was somewhat bulky and
unwieldy in appearance.

Her niece took heart of grace from her tone, and murmured
apologetically:

"He's got the loveliest things in that bundle that ever you'd see,
aunt. Feathers, ribbons, dresses, aprons, and he'll unpack them all when
he comes back to let us see them."

"A pack o' tawdry rubbish, I have no doubt," was her aunt's reply; "only
fit for flighty young girls, not for gentlemen's servants."

Thus silenced, Fanny said no more, and the three women betook themselves
to their different occupations.

After half an hour's work her girlish glee was still unabated, and on
passing the door of the breakfast-room mere curious elation impelled her
to open it softly and to look in. A perplexed look stole into her eyes
as they rested on the black object in the corner. It was there sure
enough, safe and sound, but had it not been shifted from the corner in
which the pedlar had placed it, and in which her aunt had seen it in
company with herself and the cook? No, that was impossible. She had only
fancied that it was right in the corner, and Fanny softly shut the door
again without making a sound, and went on with her daily duties.

This time her aunt employed her, and she was not free again till another
two hours had passed. It was now close on the luncheon hour, and Fanny
thought she would just take one little peep before setting the
luncheon-table for the young mistress who would come home as usual as
hungry as a hunter.

Gently she turned the handle, and stood upon the threshold. Her eyes
grew fixed and staring, her cheek blanched to a chalky white. Without
all doubt--_the pack had moved_!

Fanny stood rooted to the spot. Wild, strange ideas flitted through her
brain. There was something uncanny in this pack. Was it bewitched? She
dared not call her aunt or the cook: she was in disgrace with both, and
no wonder, the poor girl thought miserably, for the very sight now of
that uncouth-looking object in the corner was beginning to assume
hideous proportions in the girl's mind. She must watch and wait, and
wait and watch for every sign that the pack made, but oh! the agony of
bearing that uncanny secret alone! Oh for some one to share it with
her!

A figure darkened the window of the breakfast-room, and Fanny caught
sight of her young mistress's form as it passed with the rifle over her
shoulder.

With a soft step she left the room, and intercepted her on the other
side of the verandah. "Miss Patty," she whispered miserably.

Patty turned, her pretty face lighting up with a good-humoured smile as
she nodded and said, "Luncheon ready, Fanny? I am simply ravenous."

"Ye-es, I think so, miss. But oh! miss, I want to speak to you badly."

Fatty came forward with the smile still on her lips. "Has Mrs. Tucker
been scolding you dreadfully, you poor Fanny?"

"Then she's told you?" gasped the girl.

"She's told me nothing. I haven't seen her, but you look so woebegone
that I thought she had been having a pitch battle with you for
neglecting something or other, and you wanted me to get you out of the
scrape."

Fanny groaned inwardly. No, her aunt had said nothing, and she must
brace herself up, and tell the whole story from beginning to end. The
beginning, she began to think, was not so dreadful as the end. Oh that
she could dare to disbelieve her eyes, and declare that there was no
end--no awful, uncanny end!

At length, in the quiet of the verandah, the story was told, and Fanny's
heart misgave her more and more as she observed the exceeding gravity of
her young mistress's bright face as the story neared its finish. When
the finish did come, Patty's face was more than grave; the weight of
responsibility was on her, and to young, unused shoulders that weight is
particularly difficult to bear.

"Come and show me where it is," was the only remark she made, but Fanny
noticed that the red lips had lost some of their bright colour, and the
pink in the soft cheeks was of a fainter tinge than when she had first
seen her.

Without making the slightest sound, without one click of the handle,
Fanny opened the door, and Patty looked in. Her courage came back with
a bound. Fanny was a goose, there was nothing to be alarmed about.

She looked up to smile encouragingly at Fanny, when the smile froze on
her lips, for Fanny's face was livid. Without a word she beckoned her
young mistress out of the room, and as softly as before closed the door.
Then, turning to her, she whispered through her set teeth:

"_It has moved again!_"

A cold shiver ran down through Patty's spine, but she was no girl to be
frightened by the superstitious fancies of an ignorant serving maid.

"Nonsense, Fanny!" she said sharply, "you are growing quite crazed over
that stupid pack. I saw nothing unusual in it, it looked innocent enough
in all conscience."

"You never saw it move," was the answer, given in such a lifeless tone
that Patty was chilled again.

"I'll tell you what, Fanny. I'll go in after luncheon, and see if it has
moved from the place I saw it in."

"Did you notice the place well where it stood?" asked Fanny.

"Yes," replied Patty, "I'd know if it moved again. Don't tell Mrs.
Tucker or cook anything about it. You and I will try to checkmate that
pack if there is anything uncanny in it. Now tell cook I am ready for
luncheon if she is."

But when the luncheon came on the table Patty had lost all hunger. She
merely nibbled at trifles till Fanny came to clear away.

"I'm going to that room," she whispered. "If Mrs. Tucker should want me,
or perhaps Sam might, for I told him I was going to see how well he had
cleaned the harness that I found in the loft, then you must come in
quietly and beckon me out. Don't let any one know I am watching that
pack."

"Yes, miss," was Fanny's answer, given so hopelessly that Patty put a
kind hand on her shoulder with the words:

"Cheer up, Fanny. I don't believe it's so bad as you make out. It is my
belief you have imagined that the pack moved."

"It isn't my fancy, it isn't," cried the girl, the tears starting to her
eyes. "If anything dreadful happens, then it is me that has injured the
master--the best master that a poor girl could have." And with her apron
to her eyes Fanny left the room.

She came back a minute later to see Patty examining the priming of her
rifle. "Miss Patty," she whispered aghast, "you ain't never going to
shoot at it!"

"I am going to sit in that room all the afternoon," said Patty calmly,
"and if that pack moves while my eyes are on it I'll fire into that pack
even if by so doing I riddle every garment in it." And without another
word Patty stalked out of the room with her rifle on her shoulder.

At the door of the breakfast-room she set her teeth hard, and opened the
door.

_The pack had moved since she saw it._

It was with a face destitute of all colour that Patty seated herself
upon the table to mount guard over that black object now lying several
yards away from the corner. Her eyes were glued to the bundle; they grew
large and glassy, and a film seemed to come over them as she gazed,
without daring even to wink. How the minutes passed--if they revolved
themselves into half hours--she did not know. No one called her, no one
approached the door, she sat on with one fixed stare at the pedlar's
pack.

Was she dreaming? Was it fancy? No, the pack was moving! Slowly, very
slowly it crept--it could hardly be called moving, and Patty watched it
fascinated. Then it stopped, and Patty, creeping nearer, stood over it,
and watched more closely. Something was breathing inside! Something
inside that pack was alive! Patty could now clearly see the movement
that each respiration made. She had made up her mind, and now she took
her courage in both hands.

She retreated softly to the opposite side of the room, and raising the
rifle to her shoulder fired.

There was a loud, a deafening report, a shrill scream, and a stream of
blood trickled forth from the pack. Fanny was in the room crying
hysterically, Mrs. Tucker and cook were looking over her shoulder with
blanched faces.

Patty, with her face not one whit less white than any of the others,
laid the smoking rifle on the table, and spoke with a tremulousness not
usual to her.

"Mrs. Tucker, some vile plot has been hatched to rob this house while
your master is away. That pack doesn't hold finery as Fanny was at first
led to believe, but it holds a man, and I have shot him."

With trembling hands and colourless lips Mrs. Tucker, with the help of
her maids, cut away the oilcloth that bound the pack together, and
disclosed the face of a short sturdy man, it was the face of the late
coachman, Timothy Smith! With one voice they cried aloud as they saw it.

"Dead! Is he dead?" cried Patty, shuddering and covering her face with
her hands. "Oh, Mrs. Tucker, and it is I who have killed him!"

A groan from the prostrate figure reassured the party as to the fatality
of the adventure, and aroused in them a sense of the necessity of doing
what they could to relieve the sufferings of their prostrate enemy.

The huddled-up position occupied by the man when in the pack made him,
of course, a good target, and made it possible for a single shot to do
much more mischief than it might have done in passing once through any
single part of his body. It was, of course, a random shot, and entering
the pack vertically as the man was crouching with his hands upon his
knees, it passed through his right arm and left hand and lodged in his
left knee, thus completely disabling him without touching a vital part.

With some difficulty they managed to get the wounded man on to a chair
bedstead which they brought from the housekeeper's room for the purpose,
and such "first aid" as Patty was able to render was quickly given.

"And now," said Patty, "the question is, who will ride Black Bess to the
village and procure help, for we must have help for the wounded as well
as aid against the ruffians who no doubt intend to raid the house
to-night."

"Sam, miss?" questioned the housekeeper timidly. All her nerve seemed to
have departed from her since the report of that shot had rung through
the house, and there was Timothy Smith's face staring up at her. Usually
a stout-hearted woman, all her courage had deserted her now.

"Yes," said Patty gravely, "I think we shall have to take Sam into our
confidence, unless I go myself. Perhaps, Mrs. Tucker, I had better go
myself. Sam is only a boy, and he might be tempted to tell the story to
everybody he met, and if the thieves themselves get wind of what has
happened we shall have small chance of ever catching them. Would you be
afraid if I rode off at once?"

Without any false pride the young girl saw how much depended on her, and
saw too the blanched faces of the two women as they looked in turn at
each other at the thought of their sole protector vanishing.

But it was only for a minute. Mrs. Tucker shook off with a courageous
firmness the last remnant of nervousness that possessed her.

"Go, and the Lord go with you, Miss Patty," she said.

       *       *       *       *       *

As she rode along through the quiet country lanes smelling sweet of the
honeysuckle in the hedge and the wild dog-rose bursting into bloom,
Patty's thoughts travelled fast and furiously, every whit as fast as
Black Bess's hasty steps. Should she draw bridle at the village? No. She
made up her mind quickly at that. In all probability the would-be
thieves had made the village inn their headquarters for that day and
night, and the pedlar--the man she wished most to avoid--would be the
very person she would encounter. The village was small. Only one
policeman patrolled the narrow-street, and that only occasionally, and
how quickly would the news fly from mouth to mouth that a would-be
robbery had been detected in time to save Colonel Bingham's valuable
silver!

No, the pedlar would not be allowed to escape in that way if she could
help it. Every step of the five miles to the town of Frampton would she
ride, and draw help from there.

As she neared the village she walked her horse at a quiet pace, albeit
her brain was throbbing, and her nerves all in a quiver to go faster.
She nodded smilingly to the familiar faces as she met them in the
street, although she felt very far from smiling, and everywhere she
seemed to see the face of Timothy Smith. Then her heart gave a bound as
she saw, leaning against the wicket-gate of the village inn, three
men--two with the most villainous faces she had ever seen, and the third
bore the face of the man that Fanny had described as the pedlar. She was
not mistaken, then, when she thought they would make this their
headquarters.

She drew bridle as she neared the inn. Her quick brain saw the necessity
of it, if but to explain her presence there.

"Will you be so good as to ask the landlady to come out to me?" she
asked, with a gracious smile--the smile that the villagers always said
was "Miss Patty's own."

The pedlar lifted his cap with the same air that Fanny had so accurately
described, and himself undertook to go upon the mission.

"Bless you, Miss Patty," exclaimed the buxom landlady as she came out,
curtseying and smiling, followed in a leisurely manner by the pedlar,
"where be you a-ridin' that Black Bess be so hot and foam-like about the
mouth?"

Patty stooped forward and patted her horse's neck, fully aware that
three pairs of ears at the wicket-gate were being strained to catch her
answer.

"It is too bad of me to ride her so fast, Mrs. Clark. The fact of the
matter is I ought to be at Miss Price's this moment for tennis and tea,
but I am late, and have been trying to make up for lost time. However, I
must not breathe Black Bess too much, must I, or else I shall not be
allowed to ride her again?" and Patty smiled her bewitching smile,
which always captivated the heart of the landlady of the Roaring Lion.

An order for supplies for the servants' cellar, given in a firm voice,
justified her appearance in the village and satisfied the eager
listeners as to the object of her visit, after which, with a nod and a
smile, Patty rode onwards.

Not till she was out of sight and hearing of the village did she urge
Black Bess to the top of her bent, and they flew onwards like the wind.

Thud, thud, thud went the horse's hoofs, keeping time to the beating of
Patty's heart as she recalled again and again the villainous faces
leaning over the wicket-gate.

Even Black Bess seemed to realise the importance of her mission and it
was not long before Patty's heart grew lighter as she caught sight not
very far off of the spire of Trinity Church, and the turreted roof of
the Town Hall of Frampton. Reaching the town she drew rein at Major
Price's house, where, with bated breath, her story was received by the
major and his two grown-up sons. A message was sent to the police
station, and in a short while two burly sergeants of police presented
themselves, to whom Patty repeated her tale.

Arrangements were soon made. A surgeon was sent for and engaged to drive
over with the police.

"They rascals won't break in till darkness falls, miss," said one of the
men. "But we'll start at once in a trap. Better be too early than too
late."

The Prices would not hear of Patty riding Black Bess back. They
themselves would drive her home in the high dog-cart, and Black Bess
would be left behind to forget her fatigue in Major Price's comfortable
stables.

Of course they didn't go the way that Patty had come. It would never
have done to go through the village and meet those same ruffians, who
would have understood the position in the twinkling of an eye. Instead,
they took a roundabout way, which, although it took an extra half hour,
brought them through the wood on the other side of Colonel Bingham's
house.

"It is lonely--too lonely a place," muttered Major Price, as the two
conveyances swung round to the front of the house.

"But it's lovely, and we love it," answered Patty softly.

Then the door was opened cautiously by Sam, and behind him were the
huddled figures of Mrs. Tucker, cook, and Fanny. What a sigh of relief
ran through the assembly when the burly forms of the two policeman made
their appearance in the hall! And tears of real thankfulness sprang to
poor Fanny's eyes, whose red rims told their own tale.

Poor Patty's heart beat painfully as she conducted the six men to the
breakfast-room where the wounded coachman lay. She stood with averted
face and eyes as they bent over him, twining and re-twining her fingers
with nervous terror as she thought that it was her hand that had perhaps
killed him.

"Ah! this tells something," exclaimed one of the officers in uniform,
detaching as he spoke a small whistle fastened round the neck of the man
who lay all unconscious of that official attention. "This was to give
the alarm when all in the house were asleep. We shall use this when the
time comes to attract the men here."

Beyond the discovery of the whistle, and a revolver, nothing more of
importance was found, and all caught themselves wishing for the time for
action to arrive.

The surgeon dressed the man's wounds and declared him to be in no
immediate danger, after which they carried him upstairs to a remote
room, where it would be quite impossible for him to give any warning to
his confederates, even if he should have the strength.

The hour came at last when poor Patty felt worn out with suspense and
fearful anxiety; came, when Mrs. Tucker and her two maids were strung up
to an almost hysterical pitch of excitement; came, when Sam was
beginning to look absolutely hollow-eyed with watching every movement of
the police with admiring yet fearful glances.

It was twelve o'clock. The grandfather's clock on the stairs had struck
the hour in company with several silvery chimes about the house, making
music when all else was still as death.

Up to that time the sky had been dark and lowering, causing darkness to
reign supreme, till the full moon, suddenly emerging from the heavy
flying clouds, lighted up the house and its surroundings with its
refulgent beams. Then suddenly throughout the silent night there rang
forth a low, soft, piercing whistle. Only once it sounded, and then dead
silence fell again. The wounded man started in his bed, but he could not
raise his hand, and the whistle was gone.

The eyes of the women watchers looked at each other with faces weary and
worn with anxiety and fear.

Then another sound broke the stillness. Another whistle--an answering
call to the one that had rung forth before! It had the effect of
startling every one in the house, for it came from under the very window
of the room in which they were gathered.

With an upraised finger, cautioning silence, the sergeant stepped to the
window and raised it softly.

"Hist!" he said in a thrilling whisper, without showing himself, "the
lib'ry winder."

He softly closed the casement again, having discerned in that brief
moment the moonlit shadows of three men lying athwart the lawn.

In stockinged feet the five men slid noiselessly into the library where
the Venetians had been so lowered as to prevent the silvery moonrays
from penetrating into the room. Placing the three gentlemen in
convenient places should their assistance be needed, one of the men in
uniform pushed aside the French window which he had previously
unfastened to be in readiness.

"Hist! softly there," he growled; "the swag is ours."

With a barely concealed grunt of satisfaction the window was pushed
farther open, and the forms of three men made their way into the room.

With lightning-like celerity the arms of the first man were pinioned,
and when the others turned to fly they found their egress cut off by the
three Prices, who stood pointing menacing revolvers at them.

"The game's up!" growled the sham pedlar. "Who blabbed?"

"Not Timothy Smith," said the elder sergeant lightly, as he adroitly
fastened the handcuffs on his man.

"What's come of him?"

"He's in bed, as all decent people ought to be at this time o'night,"
and the sergeant laughed at his own wit.

The police carried their men off in triumph in the trap, and the wiry
little pony, rejoiced to find his head turned homewards, trotted on
right merrily, requiring neither whip nor word to urge him on to express
speed, in total ignorance of the vindictive feelings that animated the
breasts of three at least of the men seated behind him.

Major Price and his two sons remained till the morning, for Patty had
broken down when all was over, and then a telegram summoned Colonel
Bingham to return.

"I am not exactly surprised," he said at length, when he had heard the
story; "something like this was bound to occur one day or other, and I
cannot be too thankful that nothing has happened to injure my dear brave
girl, or any of the household. Patty, I have felt so convinced of
something dreadful happening during one of my unavoidable absences from
home that I have made arrangements with an old friend of mine in town to
lease this place to him for three years."

"And when does he come?" asked Patty breathlessly.

"Next month. He is going to make it a fishing- and shooting-box, and
have bachelor friends to stay with him. So, my dear, we all clear out in
a month's time."

Patty gave a long-drawn sigh. Her father did not know whether it was one
of pleasure or regret.

"We can come back if we like after the three years," he whispered.

"I am glad we are going just now," she whispered back. "That pedlar's
eyes haunt me, and they are all desperate men."

These words were sufficient to make Colonel Bingham hurry on his
arrangements, so that before three weeks were over he and his whole
household were on their way to their new home.

As they got out of the train Colonel Bingham turned to Patty. "You and I
will drive to Lady Glendower's, where we shall stay the night."

"Oh, dad, darling dad, don't take me there. Aunt Glendower won't like a
hoyden to visit her."

"She will like to welcome a brave girl," answered her father quietly.

But as Patty still shrank away from the thought he added:

"I have told her all that has happened, and she herself wrote asking me
to bring you, and I promised I would."

Rose met her with soft, clinging kisses, and then Lady Glendower folded
her in an embrace such as Patty had not thought her capable of giving.

"I am proud of my brave niece," she whispered. "Patty, go upstairs with
Rose, and get Céline to measure you for your ball-dress. I am going to
give another ball next month, and you are to be the heroine."

Under skilful treatment Timothy Smith recovered his usual health, though
the injury to his hand and knee made him a cripple for the rest of his
life. The trial was another terrible experience for Patty, and Fanny
thought she would have died when she saw the prisoners stand forward in
the dock to receive sentence. "Five years' penal servitude," said the
judge, and Patty sometimes shudders to think that the five years are
nearly up.



THE UNBIDDEN GUEST.

BY F. B. FORESTER.


"No, sir," the old keeper said reflectively. "I don't know no ghost
stories; none as you'd care to hear, that is. But I could tell you of
something that happened in these parts once, and it was as strange a
thing as any ghost story I ever heard tell on."

I had spent the morning on the moor, grouse shooting, and mid-day had
brought me for an hour's welcome rest to the lonely cottage, where the
old superannuated keeper, father to the stalwart velvet-jacketed
Hercules who had acted as my guide throughout the forenoon, lived from
year's end to year's end with his son and half-a-dozen dogs for company.
The level beams of the glowing August sun bathed in a golden glow the
miles of purple moorland lying round us; air and scenery were good to
breathe and to look on; and now, as the three of us sat on a turf seat
outside the cottage door enjoying the soft sleepy inaction of the
afternoon, a question of mine concerning the folk-lore of the district,
after which, hardened materialist though I called myself, I was
conscious of a secret hankering, had drawn the foregoing remark from the
patriarchal lips.

"Let's hear it, by all means," said I, lighting my pipe and settling
myself preparatory to listening. A slight grunt, resembling a stifled
laugh, came from Ben the keeper.

"You'll have to mind, sir," he put in, a twinkle in his eye. "Dad
believes what he's agoing to tell you, every word of it. It's gospel
truth to him."

"Ay, that I do," responded the old man warmly. "And why shouldn't I?
Didn't I see it with my own eyes? And seein's believin', ain't it?"

"You arouse my curiosity," I said. "Let us have the story by all means,
and if it is a personal experience, so much the better."

"Well, sir," began the old man, evidently gratified by these signs of
interest, and casting a triumphant glance at his son, "what I've got to
tell you don't belong to this time of day, of course. When I says I was
a little chap of six years old or thereabouts, and that I'll be
eighty-five come Michaelmas, you'll understand that it must have been a
tidy sight of years ago.

"Father, he was keeper on these moors here, same as his son's been after
him, and as _his_ son"--with a glance of fatherly pride at the stalwart
young fellow beside him--"is now, and will be for many years to come,
please God. Him and mother and me, the three of us, lived together in
just such another cottage as this one, across t'other side of the moor,
out Farnington way. The railway runs past there now, over the very place
the cottage stood on, I believe; but no one so much as dreamt o'
railways, time I talk on. Not a road was near, and all around there was
nothin' but the moors stretching away for miles, all purple ling and
heather, with not a living soul nearer than Wharton, and that was a good
twelve miles away. It was pretty lonely for mother, o' course, during
the day; but she was a brave woman, and when dad come home at night,
never a word would she let on to tell him how right down scared she got
at times and how mortally sick she felt of hearing the sound of her own
voice.

"'Been pretty quiet for you, Polly?' dad would say at night sometimes,
when the three of us would be sitting round the fire, with the flame
dancing and shining on the wall and making black shadows in all the
corners.

"'Ye-es, so, so,' mother would answer, kind of grudging like, and then
she'd start telling him what she'd been about all day, or something as
I'd said or done, so as to turn his attention, you see, sir. And as a
woman can gen'rally lead a man off on whatever trail she likes to get
his nose on dad would never think no more about it; and as for mother
and me being that lonely, when he and the dogs were all away, why, I
don't suppose the thought of it ever entered his head. So, what with her
never complaining, and that, dad grew easier in his mind, and once or
twice, when he'd be away at the Castle late in the afternoon, he'd even
stay there overnight.

"Well, sir, one day when dad comes home to get his dinner he tells
mother as how there's a lot of gentlemen come down from London for the
shooting, and as he'd got orders to be on hand bright and early next
morning,--the meaning of that being that he'd have to spend the night at
the Castle. Mother didn't say much; 'twasn't her way to carry on when
she knew a thing couldn't be helped, and dad went on talking.

"'To-morrow's quarter-day, Polly, and you've got our rent all right for
the agent when he comes. Put this along wi' it, lass, it's Tom Regan's,
and he's asked me to hand it over for him and save the miles of
walking.'

"I don't know what come to mother, whether something warned her, or
what, but she give a sort of jump as dad spoke.

"'Oh, Jim,' says she, all in a twitter, 'you're never going to leave all
that money here, and you away, and the child and me all alone. Can't
you--can't you leave one of the dogs?'

"Dad stared at her. 'No,' he says, 'I can't, more's the pity. They're
all wanted to-morrow, and I've sent them on to the Castle. Why, Polly,
lass, what's come to you? I've never known you take on like this
before.'

"Then mother, seeing how troubled and uneasy he looked, plucked up heart
and told him, trying to laugh, never to mind her--she had only been
feeling a bit low, and it made her timid like. But dad didn't laugh in
answer, only said very grave that if he'd ha' known she felt that way,
he'd have took good care she wasn't ever left alone overnight. This
should be the last time, he'd see to that, and anyhow he'd take the
rent money with him and wouldn't leave it to trouble her. Then he kissed
her, and kissed me, and went off, striding away over the moors towards
Farnington--the sunset way I called it, 'cause the sun set over there;
and I can see him big and tall like Ben here, moving away among the
heather till we lost him at the dip of the moor. And I mind how, just
before we saw no more of him, he pulled up and looked back, as if
mother's words stuck to him, somehow, and he couldn't get them out of
his mind.

"Mother seemed queer and anxious all that afternoon. Long before dusk
she called me in from playing in the bit of garden in front of the door,
and shut and barred it closely, not so much as letting me stand outside
to watch the sunset, as I always liked to do. It was getting dark
already, the shadows had begun to fall black and gloomy all round the
cottage, and the fire was sending queer dancing gleams flickering up the
wall, when I hears a queer, scratching, whining noise at the door.

"Mother was putting out the tea-cups, and she didn't hear it at first.
But I, sitting in front of the fire, heard it well enough, and I tumbled
off my stool and ran to the door to get it open, for I thought I knew
what it was. But mother had pulled the bar across at the top and I
couldn't stir it.

"'There's something at the door that wants to come in,' I says, pulling
at it.

"'There ain't nothing of the sort,' says mother shortly, and goes on
putting out the tea. 'Let the door alone.'

"'Yes, there is,' I says. 'It's a dog. It's Nip, or Juno,' meaning the
brace of pointers that dad had usually in the kennels outside.

"Then mother, thinking that perhaps dad had found that one of the dogs
could be spared after all, and had told it to go home, went to the door
and opened it. I had been right and wrong too, for on the doorstep there
was a large black dog.

"My word! but he was a beautiful creature, sir, the finest dog I ever
set eyes on. Like a setter in the make of him, but no setter that ever
I saw could match him for size or looks. His coat was jet-black, as
glossy as the skin of a thoroughbred, with just one streak of white
showing down the breast, and his eyes--well, they were the very
humanest, sir, that ever I see looking out of a dog's face.

"Now mother, although she had expected to find a dog outside, hadn't
dreamt of anything except one of ourn, and she made like to shut the
door on him. But the creature was too quick for her. He had pushed his
head through before she knew it, and she scarcely saw how, or even felt
the door press against her when he had slipped past and was in the room.

"Mother was used to dogs, and hadn't no fear of them, but she didn't
altogether like strange ones, you see, sir, me being such a child and
all; and her first thought was to put the creature out. So she pulled
the door wide open and pointed to it, stamping her foot and saying, 'Be
off! Go-home.'

"It was all very well to say that, but the dog wouldn't go. Not a step
would he budge, but only stood there, wagging his tail and looking at
her with them beautiful eyes of his, as were the biggest and
beautifullest and softest I ever see in dog before or since. She took up
a stick then, but his eyes were that imploring that she hadn't the heart
to use it; and at last, for the odd kind of uneasiness that had hung
about her ever since dad had gone was on her still, and the dog was a
dog and meant protection whatever else it might be, she shut the door,
barred it across, and said to me that we would let it stop.

"I was delighted, of course, and wanted to make friends at once; but the
queer thing was that the dog wouldn't let me touch him. He ran round
under the table and lay down in a corner of the room, looking at me with
his big soft eyes and wagging his tail, but never coming no nearer.
Mother put down some water, and he lapped a little, but he only sniffed
at a bone she threw him and didn't touch it.

"It was quite dark by this time, and mother lit a candle and set it on
the table to see to have tea by. Afterwards she took her knitting and
sat down by the fire, and I leaned against her, nodding and half asleep.
The dog lay in the corner farthest from us, between the fireplace and
the wall; and I'd forgotten altogether about him, when mother looks up
sudden. 'Bless me,' says she, 'how bright the fire do catch the wall
to-night. I haven't dropped a spark over there, surely!' And up she gets
and crosses over to t'other side to where the firelight was dancing and
flickering on the cottage wall.

"Now, sir, whether it was no more than just the light catching them,
mind you, I can't say. I only know that as mother come to the corner
where that dog was a-lying, and he lifted his head and looked at her,
his eyes were a-shining with a queer lamping sort of light, that seemed
to make the place bright all round him. But it wasn't till afterwards
that she thought of it, for at that moment there came a sudden sharp
knock at the door.

"My eye! how mother jumped; and I see her face turn white. For in that
lonely out-of-the-way place we never looked for visitors after dark, nor
in the day time, many of 'em; and the sound of this knock now give her
quite a turn. Presently there come a faint voice from outside, asking
for a crust of bread.

"Mother didn't stir for a moment, for the notion of unbarring the door
went against her. The knock come a second time.

"'For pity's sake--for the sake of the child,' the voice said again,
pleading like.

"Now, mother was terrible soft-hearted, sir, wherever children were
concerned, and the mention of a child went straight home to her heart. I
see her glance at me, and I knowed the thought passing through her mind,
as after a moment's pause she got up, stepped across the room and
unbarred the door. On the step outside stood a woman with a baby in her
arms.

"Her voice had sounded faint-like, but there was nothing in the
fainting line about her when she had got inside, for she come inside
quick enough the moment mother had unbarred the door. She looked like a
gipsy, for her face was dark and swarthy, and the shawl round her head
hid a'most all but the wild gleam of her eyes; and all the time she kep'
on rock, rocking that child in her arms until I reckon she must have
rocked all the crying out of it, for never a word come from its lips.
She sat down where mother pointed, and took the food she was given, but
she offered nothing to the child. It was asleep, she said, when mother
wanted to look at it.

"Yes, she was a gipsy, and on the tramp across the moor she had missed
her way in the fog; for there was a heavy fog coming up. 'How far was it
to Farnington? Twelve miles? She'd be thankful to sit and rest by the
fire a bit, then, if mother would let her.' And without waiting for yes
or no, she turned round and put the child out of her arms down on the
settle at her back. Then she swung round again and sat staring with her
black eyes at the fire. I was sat on my stool opposite, and, child-like,
I never so much as took my eyes off her, wondering at her gaunt make,
the big feet in the clumsy men's boots that showed beneath her skirts,
and the lean powerful hands lying in her lap. Seems she didn't
altogether like me watching her, for after a bit she turns on me and
asks:

"'What are you staring at, you brat?'

"'Nothin',' says I.

"'Then if you wants to look at nothin',' says she with a short laugh,
'you can go and stare at the kiddy there, not at me.' And she jerked her
head towards the settle, where the baby was a-lying.

"'Ah, poor little thing,' says mother, getting up, 'it don't seem
natural for it to lie there that quiet. I'll bring it to the fire and
warm it a drop o' milk.'

"She bent down over the baby and was just about to take it in her arms,
when she give a scream that startled me off my stool, and stood up, her
face as white as death. For it was nothing but a shawl or two rolled
round something stiff and heavy as was lying on the settle, and no child
at all.

"I was a-looking at mother, and I had no eyes for the woman until I see
mother's face change and an awful look of fear come over it. And when I
turned to see what she was staring at with them wild eyes, the woman had
flung off her shawl and the wrap she wore round her head, and was stood
up with a horrid, mocking smile on his face. For it was no woman, sir,
as you'll have guessed, but a man.

"'Well, mistress,' he says, coming forward a pace or two, 'I didn't mean
to let the cat out of the bag so soon; but what's done's done. There's a
little trifle of rent-money put by for the agent, as I've taken a fancy
to; and that's what's brought me here. If you hand it over quietly, so
much the better for you; if not.... I'm not one to stick at trifles;
I've come for that money, and have it I will.'

"'I have not got it,' mother said, plucking up what heart she could, and
speaking through her white and trembling lips.

"'That don't go down with me,' said the fellow with an oath. 'I didn't
sleep under the lee of Tom Regan's hayrick for nothin' last night, and I
heard every word that was spoken between him and your Jim. You'd better
tell me where you've got it stowed, or you'll be sorry for it. You're a
woman, mind you, and alone.'

"Mother's lips went whiter than ever, but she said never a word. I had
begun to cry.

"'Hold your row, you snivelling brat,' the fellow said with a curse.
'Come, mistress, you'd best not try my patience too long.'

"Now, mother was a brave woman, as I've said, and I don't believe, if
the money had been left in her charge, as she'd have given it up tamely
and without so much as a word. But of course, as things were, she could
do no more than say, over and over again, as she hadn't got it. Then the
brute began to threaten her, with threats that made her blood run cold;
for she was only a woman, sir, and alone, except for me, a child as
could do nothing in the way of help. With a last horrid threat on his
lips the fellow turned towards the settle--there was a pistol hid in the
clothes of the sham baby we found out afterwards--when he was stopped by
something as come soft and noiseless out of the corner beyond and got
right in his way. I see what it was after a minute. Between him and the
settle where the pistol was lying there was standing that dog.

"The creature had showed neither sight nor sound of itself since the
woman had come in, and we'd forgotten about it altogether, mother and
me. There it stood now, though, still as a stone, but all on the watch,
the lips drawn back from the sharp white teeth, and its eyes fixed, with
a savage gleam in them, on the fellow's face. I was nothing but a child,
and no thought of anything beyond had come to me then; but I tell you,
sir, child as I was, I couldn't help feeling that the grin on the
creature's face had something more than dog-like in it; and for nights
to come I couldn't get the thought of it out of my head.

"Our visitor looked a bit took aback when he saw the creature, for most
of his sort are terrible feared of a dog. But 'twas only for a moment,
and then he laughed right out.

"'He's an ugly customer, but he won't help you much, mistress,' he said
with a sneer. 'I've something here as'll settle _him_ fast enough.' With
that he stretched out his hand towards the bundle on the settle.

"The hand never reached it, sir. You know the choking, worrying snarl a
dog gives before he springs to grip his enemy by the throat, the growl
that means a movement--and death! That sound stopped the scoundrel, and
kept him, unable to stir hand or foot, with the dog in front of him,
never moving, never uttering a sound beyond that low threatening growl,
but watching, only watching. He might have been armed with a dozen
weapons, and it would have been all the same. Those sharp, bared fangs
would have met in his throat before he could have gripped the pistol
within a foot of his hand; and he knew it, and the knowledge kept him
there still as a stone, with the dog never taking its watching, burning
eyes from his face.

"'I'm done,' he owned at last, when minutes that seemed like hours had
gone by. 'I'm done this time, mistress, thanks to the dog-fiend you've
got here. I tell you I'd not have stopped at murder when I come in; but
that kid of yours could best me now. Make the devil brute take his eyes
off me, and let me go.'

"All trembling like a leaf, mother got to the door and drew back the
bar. The fellow crossed the kitchen and slunk out, and the dog went with
him. It followed him with its nose close at his knee as he crossed the
threshold, and the two of them went like that, out into the fog and over
the lonely moorland into the night. We never saw nor heard of the dog
again.

"There were gipsies in the neighbourhood, crossing the moor out Wharton
way, and when the story got about folk told us as 'twas known they had
some strange-looking dogs with them, and said that this one must have
belonged to the lot. But mother, she never believed in nothin' of the
sort, and to the day of her death she would have it as the creature had
been sent to guard her and me from the danger that was to come to us
that night. She held that it was something more than a dog, sir; and you
see there was one thing about it uncommon strange. When dad come back
that next morning, our two pointers, Nip and Juno, followed him into the
cottage. But the moment they got inside a sort of turn came over them,
and they rushed out all queer and scared; while as for the water mother
had set down for the black dog to drink, there was no getting them to
put their lips to it. Not thirsty, sir? Well, sir, seeing as there
warn't no water within six mile or so, and they'd come ten miles that
morning over the moor, you'll excuse me saying you don't know much about
dogs if you reckon they warn't thirsty!

"Coincidence you say, sir? Well, I dunno the meaning of that--maybe
it's a word you gentles gives to the things you can't explain. But I've
told you the story just as it happened, and I'd swear it's true, anyhow.
If a gentleman like you can't see daylight in it, t'ain't for the likes
of me to try; but I sticks to it that, say what folks will, the thing
was uncommon strange.... Not tried the west side, haven't you, sir?
Bless your heart, Ben, what be you a-thinking of? The birds are as thick
as blackberries down by the Grey Rock and Deadman's Hollow."

"That's a gruesome name," I said, rising and lifting my gun, while Ben
coupled up the brace of dogs. I noticed a glance exchanged between
father and son as the younger man lifted his head.

"Yes, sir," responded the former quietly; "the morning after that night
I've been telling you of, the body of a man was found down there, and
that's how the hollow got its name. Mother, she knew him again the
moment she set eyes on the dead face, for all he'd got quit of the
woman's clothes; and there warn't no mark nor wound on him, to show how
he'd come by his death. Oh, yes, sir; I ain't saying as the fog warn't
thick that night, nor as how it wouldn't have been easy enough for him
to ha' missed his footing in the dark; though to be sure there were
folks as would have it 'twarn't _that_ as killed him.... Good-day to
you, sir, and thank you kindly. Ben here'll see to your having good
sport."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was vexing to find so much gross superstition still extant in this
last decade of the nineteenth century, certainly. Yet for all that, and
though the notion of a spook dog was something too much for the
materialistic mind to swallow, there is no use denying that, as I stood
an hour later in Deadman's Hollow, with the recollection of the weird
story I had just heard fresh in my memory, I was conscious of a cold
shiver, which all the strength of the August sunshine, bathing the
moorland in a glow of gold, was quite unable to lessen or to drive
away.



THE WRECK OF THE _MAY QUEEN_.

BY ALICE F. JACKSON.


There was something in the air. Something ominous. A whisper of which we
heard only the rustle, as it were--nothing of the words; but when one is
on the bosom of the deep--hundreds of miles from land--in the middle of
the Pacific Ocean--ominous whispers are, to say the least of it, a
trifle disconcerting.

"What is it?" whispered Sylvia.

"I don't know," I said.

"Anything wrong with the ship?"

But I could only shrug my shoulders.

Sylvia said, "Let us ask Dr. Atherton."

So we did. But Dr. Atherton only smiled.

"There was something behind that smile of his," said Sylvia,
suspiciously. "As if we were babies, either of us," she added, severely.

Yes, there was something suspicious in that smile. And Dr. Atherton
hadn't looked at us full in the face while he talked. Besides, there was
a sort of lurking pity in his voice; and--yes, I'm sure his lip had
twitched a little nervously.

"Why should he be nervous if there is nothing the matter with the ship?"

"And why should he look as if he felt sorry for us?"

"Let's ask the captain," I said.

"Just leave the ship in my keeping, young ladies," said the captain,
when we asked him. "Go back to your fancy-work and your books."

The _May Queen_ was not a regular passenger ship. Sylvia, and I, and
Dr. Atherton were the only passengers. She was laden with wool--a cargo
boat; but Sylvia and I were accommodated with such a pretty cabin!

We had left Sydney in the captain's charge. Father wanted us to have a
year's schooling in England; and we were coming to Devonshire to live
with Aunt Sabina, and get a little polishing at a finishing school.

Of course we had chummed up with Dr. Atherton, though we had never met
him before. One's obliged to be friendly with every one on board, you
know; and then he was the only one there was to be friendly with. He was
acting as the ship's surgeon for the voyage home. He was going to
practise in England. He was, perhaps, twenty-five--not more than
twenty-six, at any rate, and on the strength of that he began to
constitute himself a sort of second guardian over us.

We didn't object. He was very nice. And, indeed, he made the time pass
very pleasantly for us.

Sylvia was sixteen, and I was fifteen; and the grey-haired captain was
the kindest chaperon.

For the first fortnight we had the most delightful weather; and then it
began to blow a horrid gale. The _May Queen_ pitched frightfully, and
"took in," as the sailors said, "a deal of water."

For three days the storm raged violently. We thought the ship would
never weather it. I don't know what we should have done without Dr.
Atherton. And then quite suddenly the wind died away, and there came a
heavenly calm.

The sea was like a mill-pond. It was beautiful! Sylvia and I began to
breathe again, when, all at once, we felt that ominous something in the
air.

"Thud! thud! thud!" All day long we heard that curious sound--and at
dead of night too, if we happened to be awake. "Thud! thud! thud!"
unceasingly.

The sailors, too, forgot their jocular sayings, and seemed too busy now
to notice us. Some looked flurried, some looked sullen; but all looked
anxious, we thought. And they were working, working, always working away
at the bottom of the ship. And always that "thud! thud! thud!"

And then we learned by accident what the matter was.

"Five feet of water in the well!" It was the captain's voice.

And Dr. Atherton's murmured something that we did not catch.

We were in the cabin, and the door was just ajar. They thought we girls
were up on deck, I suppose. Sylvia flung out her hand and pressed me on
the arm; and then she put her finger on her lip.

"All hands are at the pumps," the captain said. "Their exertions are
counteracting the leak. The water in the well is neither more nor less.
I've just been sounding it again."

"Can't the leak be stopped?" asked Dr. Atherton.

"Yes, if we could find it. We've been creeping about her ribs all the
better part of the morning, but we cannot discover the leak."

"And the water's still coming in?"

"Still coming in. They're working like galley-slaves to keep it under,
but we make no headway at all. I greatly fear that some of her seams
have opened during the gale."

"And that means----"

"That means the water is coming in through numerous apertures," said the
captain grimly.

"Is the _May Queen_ in danger, captain?" asked Dr. Atherton in a steady
voice.

There was a pause. We could hear our own hearts beat. And then:

"I would to Heaven that those girls were not on board!"

"But we are!" It was Sylvia's voice. With a bound she had flung open the
door, and stood confronting the astonished pair. "We are here. And as we
are here, Captain Maitland, oh! don't, don't keep us in the dark!"

"Good heavens!" ejaculated the doctor.

And the captain said in his severest tones:

"Young lady, you've been eavesdropping, I see. Let me tell you that's a
thing I won't allow."

"Oh! Captain Maitland, is the ship in danger?" I cried.

But the captain only glared at me. He looked excessively annoyed.

Then Sylvia ran up and put her hand upon his arm.

"We could not help hearing," she said. "If the ship is in danger really,
it is better for us to know. Please, don't be vexed with us; but we'd
rather be told the truth. We--we----"

"Are not babies," I put in, with my heart going pit-a-pat.

"Nor cowards," added Sylvia, with a lip that trembled a little.

It made the captain cough.

"The--the _May Queen_ has sprung a leak?" she said.

"You heard me say so, I suppose."

"And the ship is in danger, Captain Maitland?"

"Can you trust me, young lady?" was his answer.

Sylvia put her hand in his.

"You know we trust you," she said.

He caught it in a hearty grasp; and gave me an encouraging smile.

"Thank you for that, my child. The _May Queen's_ got five feet of water
in her well, because she got damaged in that gale. So far we're managing
to pump the water out as fast as the water comes in. D'you follow me?"

"Yes," fluttered to her lips.

"So far, so good. Don't worry. Try not to trouble your heads about this
thing at all. Just say to yourselves, 'The captain's at the helm.' All
that can be done _is_ being done, young ladies. And," pointing upwards,
"the other CAPTAIN'S aloft."

He was gone. In a dazed way I heard Dr. Atherton saying something to
Sylvia. And a few minutes after that he, too, had disappeared. "Gone,"
Sylvia said in an awe-struck whisper, "to work in his turn at the
pumps."

No need to wonder now at that unceasing "Thud! thud!" The noise of it
not only sounded in our ears, it struck us like blows on our hearts.

We crept up on deck. We could breathe there. We could see. Oh! how awful
was the thought of going down, down--drowning in the cabin below!

Air, and light, and God's sky was above. And we prayed to the CAPTAIN
aloft.

The sea was so calm that danger, after having weathered that fearful
gale, seemed almost impossible to us. The blue water reflected the blue
heaven above; and when the setting sun cast a rosy light over the sky,
the sea caught the reflection as well.

It was beautiful.

"It doesn't seem so dangerous now, Sylvia," I whispered, "as it felt
during the gale."

"No," came through her colourless lips.

"There's not a ripple on the sea," I said; "and if they keep on pumping
the water out, we'll--we'll get to land in time."

"Yes," she said, and held my hand a little tighter. After a while, "I
wonder if we're very far from land."

"Nine hundred miles, I think I heard Mr. Wheeler say." She shuddered.

Mr. Wheeler was the first mate.

I looked across the wild waste of water, and shuddered too. So calm--so
endless!

The men were working like galley-slaves down below, pumping turn and
turn about, watch and watch. We saw the relieved gang come up bathed in
perspiration. They were labouring for their lives, we knew.

Now and again some sailor, passing by, would say:

"Keep a good heart, little leddies," and look over his shoulder with a
cheerful smile.

It made us cheer up too.

We heard one say they were pumping one hundred tons of water every hour
out of the ship. It sounded appalling.

In a little while a light breeze began to blow. "From the south-west,"
somebody said it was.

And then we heard the captain give an order about "making all sail" in
the ship.

Every man that could be spared from the pumps set about it directly; and
soon great sails flew up flapping in the breeze, and the _May Queen_
went flying before the wind.

By-and-by Dr. Atherton came, and ordered us down to the saloon, and made
us each drink a glass of wine. And then Mr. Wheeler joined us; and we
sat down to supper just as we had done many a happy evening before--only
that the captain didn't come to the table as usual, but had his supper
carried away to him.

We learned that the captain had altered the ship's course, and "put the
_May Queen_ right before the wind," and that he was "steering for the
nearest land."

It comforted us.

"We have gained a little on the leak," the first mate said. "Three
inches!"

"Only three inches!" we cried.

"Three inches is a great victory," Mr. Wheeler replied. "I think it's
the turn of the tide."

"Thank God!" muttered Dr. Atherton.

We lay down in our narrow berths still comforted, and slept like tops
all night. I'm not sure that the doctor hadn't given us something to
make us sleep when he gave us a drink, as he innocently said, "to settle
and soothe our nerves."

"Thud! thud! thud!" The ominous sound was in my ears the moment I opened
my eyes, and all the terror of the preceding day came crowding into my
mind.

"Sara, are you awake?"

"Yes, Sylvia."

"Did you sleep?"

"Like a top."

"So did I."

Yes, we had slept, and while we slept the sailors had worked all night.
And all night long, like some poor haunted thing, the _May Queen_ had
glided on.

"Mr. Wheeler, has the water lessened in the well?"

"Good-morning, Miss Redding," was his reply.

His face was pale. Great beads of perspiration were rolling down his
cheeks. He began to mop them with a damp handkerchief.

At that moment Dr. Atherton came on the scene. "Good-morning, young
ladies," he said.

Such a slovenly-looking doctor! And we used to think him such a
sprucely-got-up man. There was no collar round his neck, and his hair
hung in damp strings on his forehead. And he had no coat on, not a
waistcoat either, nor did he look a bit abashed.

"Sleep well?" he said.

Mr. Wheeler seized the opportunity to slink away.

"_You_ haven't slept!" we cried.

He didn't reply. His haggard face, the red rims round his tired eyes
were answer enough.

"You've been up all night?" said Sylvia calmly.

I burst into a whimpering wail.

"No, don't, Miss Sara," urged the doctor soothingly.

Sylvia said, "Has more water come into the ship?"

"The water has gained on us a trifle," he said reluctantly.

"But Mr. Wheeler said we'd gained three inches yesterday."

"Go back into your cabin," he said. "Some breakfast will be sent to you
there directly. We--we are not fit to breakfast with ladies this
morning," he added.

"Oh! not to the cabin. Please let us go on deck."

"The captain's orders were the cabin," he said. "Hush, hush! Don't cry
any more, Miss Sara," patting my shoulder, "there's a good girl. It
would worry the captain dreadfully to hear you. His chief anxiety is
having you on board. You wouldn't make his anxiety greater, would you
now? See, Miss Sylvia, I rely on you. Take her to the cabin, and eat
your breakfast there. After breakfast," he added soothingly, "I daresay
you will be allowed to go on deck."

We went back. We sat huddled together. We held each other's hands.
Sylvia didn't cry. Her face was white. Her eyes were shining. "Don't,
Sara," she kept on saying, "crying can do no good."

Breakfast came. Neither of us ate much. How callously we sent the
greater part of it away! Afterwards we remembered it. At present we
could think of nothing but the leaking ship.

And "Thud! thud! thud!" It was like the heart of the _May Queen_,
beating, beating! How long would it take to burst?

After breakfast we were allowed to go on deck. Oh! how the brilliant
sunshine seemed to mock us there! And such a sea! Blue, beautiful,
peaceful, smiling! A vast mill-pond. And water, water everywhere!

Sea and sky! Nothing but sea and sky! And not a little, littlest speck
of Mother Earth!

"Mr. Wheeler, are we nearer land?"

"A little nearer, Miss Sylvia."

"How much nearer?"

"She's run two hundred and fifty miles," he said.

"Two hundred and fifty miles! And yesterday we were nearly a thousand
miles from land!"

"Yes, Miss Sara."

I could have screamed. It was sheer despair that kept me silent--perhaps
a little shame. Sylvia stood beside him with her hands clenched tight.

"Isn't there any likelihood of some ship passing by?"

"Every likelihood," he said.

At that moment the relieved gang came up. They were changed. Not the
brave hopeful men we had seen yesterday. They were disheartened. Indeed,
we read despair in many faces.

One big burly fellow lighted a pipe. He gave a puff or two. "No use
pumping this darned ship," he said. "She's doomed."

And as if to corroborate this awful fact a voice sang out:

"Seven feet o' water in the hold!"

This announcement seemed to demoralise the sailors. One burst out
crying. Another cursed and swore. Others ran in a flurried way about the
ship. For ten minutes or so all was confusion. And then a stentorian
voice rose above the din.

"All hands to the boats!" It was the captain's. And immediately every
man came scrambling from the pumps, and I felt my hand taken in an iron
grasp.

"We're going to abandon the ship. We're going to take to the boats. Come
down to your cabin and gather all you value. Be quick about it," said
the doctor, "there isn't much time to spare. They're going to provision
the boats before they lower them, so you can pack up all you want."

He spoke roughly. He pushed me along in front of him. I was so
dumfounded that I could not resent it. Down in the cabin he looked at
me. His stern eye dared me to faint.

I heard Sylvia say, "Can we take that little box?"

And I heard him answer, "Yes."

He was gone. I saw Sylvia, through a mist, pushing things into the box.
And the doctor was back again.

A fiery something was in my mouth, and trickling down my throat. I
tasted brandy.

"That's better," said the doctor, patting my back. "Make haste and help
your sister. Yes, Miss Sylvia, shove it all in." And then he began to
drag the blankets from our berths.

"The leddies ready? Leddies fust!" And down tumbled a sailor for the
trunk.

Up the companion-ladder for the last time, the doctor prodding me in the
back with his load of blankets. Sylvia, with a white face, carrying a
little hand-bag. And the captain coming to meet us in the doorway.

"This one first." And I was picked up in his arms as if I'd been a baby.
"Ready, Wheeler?" And I was lowered into the first mate's arms, and
placed on a seat in the cutter.

The next thing I knew was that Sylvia was by my side; and that the
doctor was tucking a blanket about our knees. After that four or five
sailors jumped into the boat, and the captain shouted in a frantic
hurry:

"Shove her off!"

The cutter fell astern. The long-boat then came forward, and all the
rest of the sailors crowded in. The captain was left the last.

"Hurry up, sir!" shouted Mr. Wheeler. But the captain had disappeared.
He had run down to his cabin for some papers.

"She's full of water!" cried one of the sailors in the long boat. And as
he spoke the _May Queen stopped dead, and shook_.

With a yell one of the men cut the rope that held the long-boat to the
ship, and shoved off like lightning from the sinking vessel.

Only in time.

The next moment the _May Queen_ pitched gently forward. Her bows went
under water.

"Captain!" shrieked the sailors in a deafening chorus.

Then her stern settled down. The sea parted in a great gulf. The waves
rolled over her upper deck. And with her sails all spread the _May
Queen_ went down into the abyss.

A hoarse cry burst from every throat; and the boats danced on the
bubbling, foaming water. The sailors stood up all ready to save him,
crying to each other that he'd come to the surface soon. But he never
did.

They rowed all round and round the spot, but not a vestige of the
captain did we see.

"Sucked under--by Heaven!" cried the first mate in a tone of horror.

And we were adrift on the Pacific.



ADRIFT ON THE PACIFIC.

BY ALICE F. JACKSON.


I.


The captain was drowned, and the _May Queen_ was wrecked, and we were
adrift on the ocean. Adrift in a cockle-shell of an open boat more than
six hundred miles from land! No--_no_! It's some horrible nightmare!

For the first few moments everybody sat benumbed, staring awe-struck
into each other's faces.

Then--"Christ have mercy on his soul!" somebody said.

And, "Amen!" came the answer in a deep whisper.

Then Mr. Wheeler gave some order in a voice that shook, and we rowed
from the fatal spot.

Sylvia sat with one hand covering her face. Her other arm crept round my
waist. I was so dazed I could hardly think--too bewildered to grasp what
had happened.

"Poor child!" said Dr. Atherton.

"Sara, Dr. Atherton is speaking to you ... Sara!"

I raised my head.

"Poor child!" I heard again. "Sit up and drink this," said the doctor's
voice, and I felt him chafing my hand.

"Miss Sara, won't you try to be brave? Look at Miss Sylvia," he said.

"She be a rare plucked 'un, she be. Cheer up, you poor little 'un!"

"While there is life, there's 'ope, little miss. Thank the Lord, we're
not all on us drowned."

I burst into tears, I was ashamed that I did; but it was oh! such a
relief to cry.

When I came to myself they were talking together. I heard in a stupefied
way.

"No immediate peril, thank God."

"Not in calm weather like this."

"Two chances for life--she must either make land, or be picked up by
some vessel at sea."

"... Beautifully still it is, Miss Sylvia. Might have been shipwrecked
in a storm, you know."

It came to my confused senses that they were very good--these men; for
they, too, were in peril of their lives; yet the chief anxiety of one
and all was to calm mine and Sylvia's fears.

Another blanket was passed up for us to sit upon. And then they started
an earnest consultation among themselves.

There were four sailors in our boat. Gilliland--the big, burly fellow
who had lighted his pipe--and Evans, and Hookway, and Davis. Dr.
Atherton and the first mate made six; and Sylvia and I made eight.

The long-boat was a good deal bigger than the cutter; and she held
eighteen to twenty men.

We gathered from their talk that the _May Queen_, after Captain Maitland
had altered her course, had run two hundred and fifty miles out of what
they termed "the track of trade"; and that unless we got back to the old
track again, there was small chance of our being picked up by another
vessel.

On the other hand, to make for the nearest land, we would have to
traverse the ocean for some six hundred miles, and Mr. Wheeler, it
seemed, was hesitating as to which course to take.

The men in the long-boat bawled to the men in the cutter, and the men in
the cutter shouted their answers back, the upshot of which was that Mr.
Wheeler decided to get back into the track of trade.

"Make all sail," he shouted to the men in the long-boat, "and keep her
head nor' east."

And, "Ay, ay, sir," came the answer over the water.

The men in the cutter ran up the sails too, and soon we were sailing
after the long-boat. The longboat, however, sailed much faster than the
cutter. Sometimes she lowered her sails on purpose to wait for us.

The weather was perfect. The sea was beautiful. In the middle of the
Pacific Ocean, and hardly a ripple on the waves!

"We could hold out for weeks in weather like this!" cried the doctor
cheerfully. And then to Gilliland:

"The boats are well provisioned, you say?"

"A month's provisions on board, sir. That was the captain's orders. Me
and Hookway had the doing of it."

"And water?" asked the doctor anxiously.

"Plenty of water, and rum likewise," replied the sailor, with an
affectionate glance at one of the little barrels.

"I see only two small casks here," said the doctor sharply.

"Plenty more on board the long-boat. Ain't there, Hookway?"

"Plenty more, sir. The long-boat can stow away a deal more than the
cutter. When we've got through this keg of spirit," putting his hand on
one of the little casks, "and drunk up that there barrel of water, we've
only got to signal the long-boat, and get another barrel out of her."

"The food is on the long-boat, too, I suppose?"

"Right you are, sir. And here's a lump o' corned beef. And here's a loaf
o' bread. And likewise a bag o' biscuit for present requirements."

"Humph!" said the doctor, "I'm glad of that. Hand me up that loaf,
Davis, if you please. Mr. Wheeler, the spirits, of course, are in your
charge. May I ask you to mix a small mug of rum and water for these
ladies?"

"Oh! I couldn't drink rum, doctor," objected Sylvia.

"Oh! yes, you can. And you're going to eat this sandwich of corned beef
and bread. Excuse fingers, Miss Sara," he added, handing me a sandwich
between his finger and thumb. "Fingers were made before knives and
forks. And now you're to share this mug of rum and water."

"It's very weak, I assure you," said Mr. Wheeler, smiling. "Drink up
every drop of it," he added kindly. "It will do you both good."

We thanked him and obeyed. And while we ate our sandwiches the men ate
biscuit and beef; and then Mr. Wheeler poured them out a small allowance
of rum.

The cutter sailed smoothly. And the men told yarns. But every eye was on
the look-out for the smoke of some passing ship.

We saw none. Not a speck on the ocean, save the long-boat ahead. And
by-and-by the sun set, and a little fog crept up. And the night came on
as black as pitch and very drear.

Sylvia and I huddled close in the blanket that Dr. Atherton had tied
about our shoulders; and whispered our prayers together.

"To-morrow will be Sunday, Sylvia," I said.

And she whispered back: "They will pray for those that travel by water
in the Litany."


II.


I couldn't sleep. Every time I began to lose consciousness I started up
in a fright, and saw the _May Queen_ going down into the sea again; and
fancied I saw the captain struggling in the cabin. It was terrible.

I could hear the men snoring peacefully in the boat. They were all
asleep except the helmsman.

At midnight he roused up another man to take his place; and after that I
remembered no more till I started up in the grey dawn with a loud
"Ahoy!" quivering in my ears.

"Ahoy! A-hoy!"

Everybody was wide awake. Everybody wanted to know what the matter was.
And everybody was looking at the helmsman who was peering out at sea.

It was Gilliland. He turned a strange, scared face to the others in the
cutter, and:--"_The long-boat's not in sight!_" said he.

Somebody let out an oath. And every eye stared wildly over the sea. It
was quite true. Not a speck, not a streak we saw upon the ocean--the
long-boat had disappeared!

"God in heaven!" ejaculated the first mate. "She must have capsized in
the night!"

"And if we don't capsize, we'll starve," said the doctor, "_for she had
all our provisions on board_!"

There was an awful silence for just three minutes. Then the man who had
sworn before shot out another oath. Hookway began to rave like a madman.
Evans burst into sobs. Davis began to swear horribly, and cursed
Gilliland for putting the provisions in the other boat.

It was terrible.

Suddenly Sylvia's voice rose trembling above the babel, quaveringly she
struck up the refrain of the sailor's hymn:

    _"O hear us when we cry to Thee_
    _For those in peril on the sea."_

"God bless you, miss!" cried Gilliland. And taking up the tune, he
dashed into the first verse:

    _"Eternal Father, strong to save,_
    _Whose arm hath bound the restless wave._
    _Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep_
    _Its own appointed limits keep:"_

The doctor and the first mate joined in the refrain. And Hookway ceased
to rave. They sang the hymn right through. The last verse was sung by
every one. The "_Amen_" went up like a prayer at the end. And the
sailors, with their caps in their hands, some of them with tears in
their eyes, looked gratefully at Sylvia and murmured, "Thank you, miss."

Oh! the days that followed, and the long, hungry nights! Even now I
dream of them, and start up trembling in my sleep.

Sylvia and I have very tender hearts when we hear of the starving poor.

To be hungry--oh! it is terrible. But to be thirsty too! And to feel
that one is dying of thirst--and water everywhere!

For those first dreadful days Mr. Wheeler dealt out half a biscuit to
each--half a biscuit with a morsel of beef that had to be breakfast, and
dinner, and tea! And just a little half mug of water tinctured with a
drop of rum!

And on that we lived, eight people in the cutter, for something like
eleven days! Eleven days in a scorching sun! Eleven calm, horrible
nights!

We wanted a breeze. And no breeze came, though we prayed for it night
and day. The remorseless ocean was like a sheet of glass. The sun shone
fiercely in the heavens. It made the sides of the cutter so hot that it
hurt our poor hands to touch it.

And all those days no sign of a sail! Not a vestige of a passing ship!

Evans and Davis grumbled and swore. And so did Hookway sometimes.
Gilliland was the most patient of the sailors; and tried to cheer up
every one else with stories of other people's escapes.

On the _May Queen_ Sylvia and I had thought Mr. Wheeler rather a
commonplace sort of man. We knew him for a hero in the cutter. Often he
used to break off pieces of his biscuit, I know, to add to Sylvia's and
mine.

"Friends," he said on the eleventh day, "the biscuit is all gone." His
face was ghastly. His eyes were hollow. His lips were cracked and sore.

"And the water?" asked the doctor faintly.

"Barely a teaspoon apiece."

"Keep it for the women then," suggested Dr. Atherton.

"No!" shouted Davis with an oath.

And, "We're all in the same boat," muttered Evans.

Gilliland lifted his bloodshot eyes. "Hold your jaw!" he said.

Hookway groaned feebly.

They looked more like wild beasts than men, with their ghastly faces,
and their glaring eyes--especially Davis.

He looked at me desperately. He thought I was going to have all the
water.

"I won't take more than my share, Mr. Wheeler," I said. And I looked at
Sylvia. She was lying in the stern muttering feebly to herself. She
didn't hear.

"God bless you, miss!" said Davis, and burst into an agony of sobs.

The last spoonful of water was handed round, the doctor forcing Sylvia's
portion into her mouth.

And we wafted on, only just moving along, for there was no breeze. And
the sun beat on us. And the sea glared. And Davis cursed. And Hookway
writhed and moaned.

"Take down the sails," said the first mate. "They are useless without
any wind. Rig them up as an awning instead."

The men obeyed.

Then the doctor seized a vessel, and filling it with sea-water poured it
over Sylvia as she lay, soaking her, clothes and all.

"Oh, doctor!" I expostulated, wonderingly.

"I'm going to drench you too, Miss Sara. It will relieve the thirst," he
said.

Sylvia opened her eyes. "Oh! it's bliss!" she said.

Dr. Atherton then poured some salt water over me, and then over Mr.
Wheeler and himself, and told the sailors to drench themselves as well.

It _was_ a little relief--only a very little; and the heat gradually
dried us up again.

"Here, give me the baler!" cried Davis in a little while, and he caught
it out of Gilliland's hand. "D'ye think I'm going to die o' thirst with
all this water about?" And dipping it over the side of the cutter, he
lifted it to his mouth.

"Stop him!" shouted the doctor in a frenzy. "The salt water'll make him
mad!"

And Gilliland, with a desperate thrust, tipped it over his clothes
instead.

Davis howled. He tried to fight; but Gilliland was too strong for him,
and soon he was huddled up in the fore part of the boat, cursing and
swearing dreadfully.

After a time he quieted down, and then he became so queer.

"Roast beef!" he murmured, smacking his lips. "An' taters! An' cabbage!
An' gravy! An' Yorkshire pudden'! My eye! It's prime! And so's the beer,
my hearties!"

He smiled. The anguish died out of his face. He thought he was eating it
all. And then he began to finish off his dinner with apple pie.

"Stow your gab!" snarled Evans. "Wot a fool he is!"

And, indeed, it was maddening to hear him.

An hour later he struggled into a sitting posture and turned a rapturous
face upon the sea. "Water!" he shouted. "Water! Water!" And before any
of the sailors could raise a hand to stop him he had rolled over the
side of the boat.

The first mate shouted. The men, feeble though they were, sprang to do
his bidding. They were not in time. With a gurgling cry Davis was jerked
under the water suddenly. Next moment the water bubbled, and before it
grew calm again the surface was stained with blood.

"A shark's got him!" shrieked Hookway. And as he cried the great black
fin of some awful thing came gliding after the cutter.

"He's had _his_ dinner," said Gilliland grimly; "and he's waiting for
his supper now!"


III.


Oh! that terrible night, with the full moon shining down upon the quiet
water! So still! So calm! Not a ripple on the wave! And that awful black
something silently following us!

Sylvia lay with her head upon the doctor's knee--one poor thin arm, half
bared, across my lap. And so the morning found us.

There was something the matter with Evans--something desperate. He was
beginning to look like Davis--only worse. Something horrible in his
ghastly face. It was wolfish. And his eyes--they were not like human
eyes at all--they were the eyes of some fierce, wild beast. And they
were fastened with a wolfish glare on Sylvia's half-bared arm. _He
wanted to eat it!_

Stealthily he had got his clasp knife out. And stealthily he was
crouching as if to make a spring. And I couldn't speak!

My tongue, as the Bible expresses it, clave to the roof of my mouth. I
was powerless to make a sound. And none of the others happened to be
looking at him.

I put my hand on Mr. Wheeler's knee and gave him a feeble push. I
pointed dumbly at Evans.

"Put down that knife!" cried Mr. Wheeler in a voice of command. "Evans!"

With a cry so hideous--I can hear it now--the man lunged forward. Mr.
Wheeler tried to seize the knife; but Evans suddenly plunged it into his
shoulder; and the first mate fell with a groan.

Then there was an awful struggle.

Gilliland and Hookway fighting with Evans. And the doctor trying to
protect Sylvia and me; and dragging the first mate away from the
scuffling feet. And I praying out loud in my agony that death might come
to our relief.

He was down at last. Lying in the bottom of the boat, with Gilliland
sitting astride him, and Hookway getting a rope to tie him up! The
doctor leaning over Mr. Wheeler and trying to staunch the blood, and the
first mate fainting away!

And then--Oh! heavens! with a cry--Gilliland sprang to his feet,
shouting! gesticulating! waving his cap! Had he, too, now, suddenly gone
mad?

"Ship ahoy! ahoy!" he shrieked, and we followed his pointing hand.

And there, on the bosom of the endless sea, we saw a ship becalmed.

I suppose I swooned.

When I recovered my senses, the cutter was creeping under her lee, and
the crew were throwing us a rope.

"The women first," said somebody in a cheerful voice. "And after them
send up the wounded man."

And soon kind, pitying faces were bending over us. And very tender hands
were feeding Sylvia and me.

"They've had a pooty consid'able squeak, I guess," said the cheerful
voice.

And somebody answered, "That's so."

We had been picked up by an American schooner.



A STRANGE VISITOR.

BY MAUD HEIGHINGTON.


The Priory was a fine, rambling old house, which had recently come into
Jack Cheriton's possession through the death of a parsimonious relative.

Part of the building only had been kept in repair, while the remainder
had fallen into decay, and was, in fact, only a picturesque ruin.

The Cheritons' first visit to their newly acquired property was a sort
of reconnoitre visit. They had come from Town for a month's holiday,
bringing with them Thatcher--little Mollie's nurse--as general factotum.

They had barely been in the house an hour when a telegram summoned
Thatcher to her mother's deathbed, and a day or two later urgent
business recalled Jack to Town.

"I'll just call at the Lodge and get Mrs. Somers to come up as early as
she can this morning, and stay the night with you, so you will not be
alone long," he called as he hurried off.

His wife and Mollie watched him out of sight, and then returned to the
breakfast-room--the little one amusing herself with her doll, while her
mother put the breakfast things together.

Millicent Cheriton was no coward, but an undefinable sense of uneasiness
was stealing over her. The Priory was fully half an hour's walk from the
Lodge, which was the nearest house. Still further off, in the opposite
direction, stood a large building, the nature of which they had not yet
discovered.

Jack had never left her even for one night since their marriage--and
now she had not even Thatcher left to bear her company.

"Mrs. Somers will soon be here," she said in a comforting tone to
Mollie, who, however, was too intent upon her doll to notice, and
certainly did not share her mother's uneasiness.

Meanwhile, Jack had reached the Lodge and made his request to Somers,
the gamekeeper.

"I'm main sorry, sir, but the missus thought as you would want her at
eleven--as usual, so she started off early to get her marketing done
first. I'll be sure and tell her to take her things up for the night as
soon as she gets home."

"Ten o'clock! No Mrs. Somers yet!"

Mrs. Cheriton picked up her little daughter and carried her upstairs.

"We'll make the beds, Mollie, you and I," she said, tossing the little
maid into the middle of the shaken-up feather bed.

This was fine fun, and Mollie begged for a repetition of it.

"Hark! That must be Mrs. Somers," as a footstep sounded on the gravel
path.

"That's right, Mrs. Somers, I am glad you have come," called Millicent,
but as she heard no reply, she thought she had been mistaken, and
finished making the bed, then tying a sun-bonnet over Mollie's golden
curls, took her downstairs, intending to take her into the garden to
play.

What was it that came over Millicent as she reached the hall? Again that
strange uneasiness, and a feeling that some third person was near her.
She grasped Mollie's hand more firmly, with an impatient exclamation to
herself, for what she thought was silly nervousness, and walked into the
dining-room.

There, in the large armchair, lately occupied by her husband, sat a
tall, gentlemanly looking man.

He had already removed his hat, and was about to unlock a brown leather
bag, which he held on his knee. He rose and bowed as Mrs. Cheriton
entered the room.

"I must apologise for intruding upon you, madam, but I do so in the
cause of science, so I am sure you will pardon me."

The words were fair enough, but something in the manner made Millicent's
heart seem to stand still. Something also told her that she must not
show her fear.

"May I know to whom I am speaking?" she said, "and in what branch of
science you take a special interest?"

"Certainly, madam. My name is Wharton. I am a surgeon, and am greatly
interested in vivisection."

"Indeed!" said Millicent, summoning all her presence of mind, for as he
spoke his manner grew more excitable, and he began to open his bag.

"I called here," he said, "to make known a new discovery, which,
however, I should like to demonstrate," and he fixed his restless eye on
little Mollie, who was clinging shyly to her mother's gown.

"I am sure it is very kind of you to take an interest in us--but it is
so early, perhaps you have not breakfasted? May I get you some
breakfast?"

Would Mrs. Somers never come? and if she did, what could she do? for by
this time Millicent had no doubt that she was talking to a madman.

"Thank you, I do not need any," replied her visitor, as he began to take
from his bag all kinds of terrible looking surgical instruments, and
laid them on the table.

In spite of the terror within her, Millicent tried to turn his attention
from his bag, speaking of all kinds of general subjects as fast as they
came to her mind, but though he answered her politely, it was with
evident irritation, and he seemed to get more excitable every minute.

"This will never do," she thought, "I must humour him," and with sinking
heart she ventured on her next question.

"What is this wonderful discovery, Mr. Wharton? if I may ask."

"Certainly, madam. It is a permanent cure for deafness."

Millicent began to breathe more freely as the thought passed through her
mind "then it can't affect Mollie," for she forgot for a moment that
her guest was not a sane man. Again his eye rested on Mollie, and he
rose from his chair.

"The cure is a certain one," he said, "the right ear must be amputated,
and the passages thoroughly scraped, but I will show you," and he took a
step towards Mollie.

Millicent's face blanched.

"But Mollie is not deaf," she said; "it will hardly do to operate on
her."

"It will prevent her ever becoming so, madam, and prevention is better
than cure," and he stepped back to the table to select an instrument.

The mother's presence of mind did not desert her--though her legs
trembled so violently that she feared her visitor would see her terror.

"It would be a very good thing to feel sure of that," she said. "You
will want a firm table, of course, and good light. You might be
interrupted here. I will show you a better room for the operation."

"Thank you, madam, and I shall require plenty of hot water and towels."

"Certainly," said Millicent, and leading him to the hall, she directed
him to a room which had at one time been fitted as a laundry, and in
which was an ironing bench.

With sinking heart, she followed him to the top of the house--pointing
the way through two attics into a third.

"I will just leave you to arrange your things while I get hot water and
towels, and put on Mollie's nightdress," she said, and closing the door,
turned the key. It grated noisily, but the visitor was too much occupied
to notice it, and rushing through the other rooms, Millicent locked both
doors, and fled downstairs.

Snatching her little one in her arms, she hurried through the
garden--pausing at the gate to shift Mollie from her arms on to her
back.

She had barely left the gate when a horrible yell of baffled rage rent
the air, making her turn and glance up at the window of the attic.

The maniac had just discovered that the door was locked, and rushing to
the window caught sight of his hostess and desired patient fleeing from
the house.

One glance showed Millicent that he was about to get out of the window,
but whether he intended to clamber down by the ivy, or creep in at the
next attic, she did not stop to ascertain; only praying that she might
have strength to gain a place of safety she sped on, staggering under
the weight of her little one, who clung to her neck in wonder.

On and on, still with the wild yells of rage ringing in her ears, until
she had put three fields between herself and the house, when she stopped
for breath in a shady lane.

Hark! Surely it was the sound of wheels coming towards her. "Help! oh,
help!" she shouted. "Help! help! help!"

In another moment a brougham, drawn by two horses, appeared, coming
slowly up the hill towards her.

The coachman at a word from his master drew up, and Millicent, now
nearly fainting from terror and exhaustion, was helped into the
carriage.

Giving directions to the coachman to drive home as quickly as possible,
Dr. Shielding, for it was the medical superintendent of the Lunatic
Asylum, the long building already referred to, drew from her between
sobs and gasps the story of her fright.

At length they drew up before the doctor's house, in the grounds of the
asylum, and with a hasty word of introduction, Dr. Shielding left
Millicent and Mollie with his wife and daughter.

Summoning two burly-looking keepers, he stepped into his brougham again.

"To the Priory," he said, and then related the story to the men,
describing the position of the attic as told him by Millicent, adding
that he had just returned from a distant village, where he had been
called for consultation about a case of rapidly developed homicidal
mania of a local medical man, but the patient had eluded his caretaker,
the previous day, and could not be found.

"I have no doubt it is the same man," he said, "and there he is!" he
added, as they stopped before the Priory gate, to find the strange
visitor was trying to descend from the window by the ivy.

There he clung, bag in hand, still five-and-twenty feet from the ground.
When hearing their voices, he turned to look at them, and in so doing
lost his hold, falling heavily to the ground.

They hastened to the spot, just in time to see a spasmodic quiver of the
limbs as he drew his last breath. He had struck his head violently
against a huge stone and broken his neck.

The body was removed to the mortuary of the asylum, with all speed, and
the relatives of the poor man telegraphed for, and when Dr. Shielding
returned home he found that his wife had insisted upon keeping Mollie
and Millicent as their guests until Jack's return, to which arrangement
he heartily assented.

       *       *       *       *       *

Jack's face blanched as he read a paragraph describing the adventure in
his morning paper the following day, and when his letters were brought
in, he hastily broke the seal of one in his wife's handwriting, and read
the story in her own words, finishing with, "Oh, Jack, dear, I never,
never can go back there again; do come and fetch us home."

They never did return to the Priory, for on his way to the station, Jack
put it into the hands of an agent for sale, and when he reached
Beechcroft, he begged Mrs. Somers to go and pack up all their personal
belongings and send them back to Town.

It was with feelings of deep thankfulness that he clasped his wife and
little one in his arms once more, inwardly vowing that come what might,
he would never again leave them without protection, even for an hour.



THE THIRD PERSON SINGULAR.

BY LUCY HARDY.


"You remember the old coaching days, granny?"

"Indeed I do," replied the old lady, with a smile, "for one of the
strangest adventures of my life befell me on my first stage-coach
journey. Yes, you girls shall hear the story; I am getting into my
'anecdotage,' as Horace Walpole calls it," and granny laughed with the
secret consciousness that her "anecdotes" were always sure of an
appreciative audience.

"People did not run about hither and thither in my young days as you
girls do now," went on the old lady, "and it was quite an event to take
a coach journey. In fact, when I started on my first one, I was nearly
twenty years old; and my father and mother had then debated a good while
as to whether I could be permitted to travel alone by the stage. My
father was a country parson, as you know, and we lived in a very remote
Yorkshire village. But an aunt, who was rich and childless, had lately
taken up her residence at York, and had written so urgently to beg that
I might be allowed to spend the winter with her, and thus cheer her
loneliness, that it was decided that I must accept the invitation. It
was the custom then for many of the local country gentry to visit the
great provincial towns for their 'seasons' instead of undertaking the
long journey to the metropolis. York, and many another country town, is
still full of the fine old 'town houses' of the local gentry, who now go
to London to 'bring out' their young daughters; but who, in the former
days, were content with the gaieties offered by their own provincial
capital. Very lively and pleasant were the 'seasons' of the country
towns in my youth; and I think there was more real hospitality and
sociability found among the country neighbours than one meets with in
London society nowadays. I, of course, was delighted at the prospect of
exchanging the dull life of our little village for the gaieties of York;
but when it actually came to saying good-bye to my parents, from whom I
had never yet been separated, I was half inclined to wish that Aunt
Maria's invitation had been refused. Farmer Gray, who was to drive me to
the neighbouring town, where I should join the coach, was very kind; and
pretended not to see how I was crying under my veil. We lumbered along
the narrow lanes and at length reached the little market town where I
was deposited at the 'Blue Boar' to have some tea and await the arrival
of the mail. I had often watched the coach dash up, and off again, when
visiting the town with my father; but it seemed like a dream that I,
Dolly Harcourt, was now actually to be a passenger in the conveyance.
The dusk of a winter's evening was gathering as the mail came in sight,
its red lamps gleaming through the mist. Ostlers prided themselves upon
the celerity with which the change of horses was effected, and
passengers were expected to be equally quick; I was bustled inside (my
place had been taken days previously) before I had time to think twice.
Fortunately, as I thought, remembering the long night journey which lay
before me, I found the interior of the coach empty, several passengers
having just alighted; but, as I settled myself in one corner, two
figures hurried up, a short man, and a woman in a long cloak and
poke-bonnet, with a thick veil over her face.

"'Just in time,' cried the man. 'Yes, I've booked two places, Mr. Jones
and Miss Jenny,' and the pair stumbled in just as the impatient horses
started.

"'Miss Jenny.' Well, I was glad that I was not to have a long night
journey alone with a strange man. I glanced at the cloaked and veiled
figure which sank awkwardly into the opposite corner of the vehicle, and
then leaned forward to remove some of my little packages from the seat;
in so doing I brushed against her bonnet.

"'I beg your pardon, madam,' I said politely; 'I was removing these
parcels, fearing they might incommode you.'

"'All right, all right, miss,' said the man, a red-faced, vulgar-looking
personage; 'don't you trouble about Jenny, she'll do very well;' and he
proceeded to settle his companion in the corner rather unceremoniously.

"'Is she his sister or his wife, I wonder,' I thought; 'he does not seem
particularly courteous to her;' and I took a dislike to my
fellow-passenger on the spot. He, however, was happily indifferent to my
good or evil opinion; pulling a cap from his pocket, he exchanged his
hat for it, settled himself comfortably by his companion's side, and, in
a few moments, was sound asleep, as his snores proclaimed. I could not
follow his example. I felt terribly lonely, and not a little nervous. As
we sped along at what appeared to my inexperience such a break-neck rate
(ten miles an hour seemed so _then_, before railways whirled you along
like lightning), I began to recall all the dismal stories of coach
accidents, and of highwaymen, which I had read or heard of during my
quiet village existence. Suppose, on this very moor which we were now
crossing, a highwayman rode up and popped a pistol in at the window. I
myself had not much to lose, though I should have been extremely
reluctant to part with the new silk purse which my mother had netted for
me, and in which she and father had each placed a guinea--coins not too
plentiful in our country vicarage in those days. And suppose the
highwayman was not satisfied with mere robbery, but should oblige me to
alight and dance a minuet with him on the heath, as did Claud Duval;
suppose--here my nervous fears took a fresh turn, for the cloaked lady
opposite began to move restlessly, and the man, half waking, gave her a
brisk nudge with his elbow and cried sharply,--

"'Now, then, keep quiet, I say.'

"This was a strange manner in which to address a lady. Could this man be
sober, I thought, and a shiver ran through me at the idea of being
doomed to spend so many hours in company with a possibly intoxicated,
and certainly surly man. How rudely he addressed his companion, how
little he seemed to care for her comfort! As I looked more carefully at
the pair (the rising moon now giving me sufficient light to do this) I
noted that the man's hand was slipped under the woman's cloak, and that
he was apparently holding her down in her seat by her wrist. A fresh
terror now assailed me--was I travelling with a lunatic and her keeper?
I vainly tried to obtain a glimpse of the woman's countenance, so
shrouded by her poke-bonnet and thick veil.

"The man was speedily snoring again, and I sat with my eyes fixed on the
cloaked figure, wondering--speculating. Poor thing, was she indeed a
lunatic travelling in charge of this rough attendant? Pity filled my
heart as I thought of this afflicted creature, possibly torn from home
and friends and sent away with a surly guardian; who, I now felt _sure_,
was not too sober. Was the woman old or young, of humble rank or a lady?
I began to weave a dozen romantic stories in my head about my
fellow-passengers, quite forgetting all my recent fears about the
'knights of the road.' So sorry did I feel for the woman that I leant
across and addressed some trivial, polite remark to her, but received no
reply. I gently touched her cloak to draw her attention, but the lady's
temper seemed as testy as that of her companion; she abruptly twisted
away from my touch with some inarticulate, but evidently angry
exclamation, which sounded almost like a growl. I shrank back abashed
into my corner and attempted no more civilities. Would the coach never
reach York and I be freed from the presence of these mysterious
fellow-passengers? I was but a timid little country lass, and this was
my first flight from home. It was certainly not a pleasant idea to
believe oneself shut up for several hours with a half-tipsy man and a
lunatic; as I now firmly believed the woman to be. I sat very still,
fearing to annoy her by any chance movement, but my addressing her had
evidently disturbed her, for she began to move restlessly, and to make a
kind of muttering to herself. I gradually edged away towards the other
end of the seat, so as to leave as much space between myself and the
lady as possible, and in so doing let my shawl fall to the floor of the
coach. I stooped to pick it up, and there beheld, protruding from my
fellow-passenger's cloak, _her foot_. Oh horrors! I saw no woman's
dainty shoe--but a hairy paw, with long nails--was it _cloven_?

       *       *       *       *       *

"The frantic shriek I gave stopped the coach, and the guard and the
outside passengers were round the door in a moment. For the first time
in my life I had fainted--so missed the first excited turmoil--but soon
revived to find myself lying on the moor, the centre of a kindly group
of fellow-travellers, who were proffering essences, and brandy, and all
other approved restoratives; while in the background, like distant
thunder, were heard the adjurations of the guard and the coachman, who
were swearing like troopers at the other--or rather at the _male_,
inside passenger. Struggling into a sitting position, I beheld this man,
sobered now by the shock of my alarm, and by the vials of wrath which
were being emptied upon him, standing in a submissive attitude, while
beside him, her cloak thrown back and her poke-bonnet thrust on one
side, was the mysterious 'lady'--now revealed in her true character as a
_performing bear_. It seemed that a showman, desirous of conveying this
animal (which he described as 'quiet as an hangel') with the least
trouble and expense to himself, bethought him of the expedient of
booking places in the coach for himself and the bear, which bore the
name of 'Miss Jenny'; trusting to her wraps and to the darkness to
disguise the creature sufficiently. I will not repeat the language of
the guard and coachman on discovering the trick played; but after
direful threats as to what the showman might 'expect' as the result of
his device, matters were amicably arranged. The owner of the bear made
most abject apologies all round (I fancy giving more than _civil words_
to the coach officials), I interceded for him, and the mail set off at
double speed to make up for lost time. Only, with my knowledge of 'Miss
Jenny's' real identity, I absolutely declined to occupy the interior of
the coach again despite the showman's assertions of his pet's
harmlessness; and the old coachman sympathising with me, I was helped up
to a place by his side on the box, and carefully wrapped up in a huge
military cloak by a young gentleman who occupied the next seat, and who
was, as he told me, an officer rejoining his regiment at York. The
latter part of my journey was far pleasanter than the beginning; the
coachman was full of amusing anecdotes, and the young officer made
himself most agreeable. It transpired, in course of conversation, that
my fellow-traveller was slightly acquainted with Aunt Maria; and this
acquaintanceship induced him to request that he might be permitted to
escort me to her house and see me safe after my disagreeable adventure.
I had no objection to his accompanying myself and the staid maidservant
whom I found waiting for me at the inn when the coach stopped at York;
and Aunt Maria politely insisted on the young man's remaining to partake
of the early breakfast she had prepared to greet my arrival."

"Well, your fright did not end so badly after all, granny," remarked one
of her listeners.

"Not at all badly," replied the old lady with a quiet smile; "but for my
fright I should never have made the acquaintance of that young officer."

"And the officer was----"

"He was _Captain_ Marten then, my dears--he became _General_ Marten
afterwards--and was _your grandfather_."



"HOW JACK MINDED THE BABY."

BY DOROTHY PINHO.


The _Etruria_ was on its way to New York. The voyage had been, so far,
without accidents, or even incidents; the weather had been lovely; the
sea, a magnificent stretch of blue, with a few miniature wavelets
dancing in the sunlight.

Amongst the passengers of the first-class saloon everybody noticed a
slight girlish figure, always very simply attired; in spite of all her
efforts to remain unnoticed, she seemed to attract attention by her
great beauty. People whispered to each other, "Who is she?" All they
knew was that her name was Mrs. Arthur West, and that she was going out
to New York with her two babies to join her husband.

Every morning she was on deck, or sometimes, if the sun was too fierce,
in the saloon, and she made a charming picture reclining in her
deck-chair, with baby Lily lying on her lap, and little Jack playing at
her feet. Baby was only three or four months old; hardly anything more
than a dainty heap of snowy silk and lace to anybody but her mother,
who, of course, thought that nothing on earth could be as clever as the
way she crowed and kicked out her absurd pink morsels of toes.

Master Jack was quite an important personage; he was nearly four years
old and very proud of the fact that this was his second voyage, while
Lily had never been on a ship before, and, as he contemptuously
remarked, "didn't even know who dada was." He was a quaint,
old-fashioned little soul, and though he rather looked down upon his
little sister from the height of his dignity and his first
knickerbockers, he would often look after her for his mother and pat her
off to sleep quite cleverly.

We must not forget to mention "Rover," a lovely retriever; he was quite
of the family, fairly worshipped by his little master, and the pet of
the whole ship. He looked upon baby Lily as his own special property,
and no stranger dare approach if he were guarding her.

On the afternoon my story opens baby Lily had been very cross and
fretful; the intense heat evidently did not agree with her. Poor little
Mrs. West was quite worn out with walking up and down with her trying to
lull her off to sleep. Jack was lying flat on the floor, engrossed in
the beauties of a large picture-book; two or three times he raised his
curly head and shook it gravely. Then he said, "Isn't she a naughty
baby, mummie?"

"Yes, dear," answered his mother, "and I'm afraid that if she doesn't
soon get good, we shall have to put her right through the porthole. We
don't want to take a naughty baby-girl to daddy, do we?"

"No, mummie," answered Jack very earnestly, and he returned once more to
his pictures.

"There, she has gone off," whispered Mrs. West, after a few moments.
"Now, Jackie, I am going to put her down, and you must look after her
while I go and see if the stewardess has boiled the milk for the night.
Play very quietly, like a good little boy, because I don't think she is
very sound asleep." And, with a parting kiss on his little uplifted
face, she slipped away.

The stewardess was nowhere to be found; so Mrs. West boiled the milk
herself, as she had often done before, and after about ten minutes,
returned to her cabin.

Little Jack was in a corner, busy with a drawing-slate; he turned round
as his mother came in. The berth where she had put the baby down was
empty.

"Was baby naughty? Has the stewardess taken her?" she asked.

"No, mummie; baby woke up d'rectly you went, an' she was so dreff'ly
naughty--she just _wouldn't_ go to sleep again; so I thought I'd better
punish her, an' I put her, just this minute, through the porthole, like
you said; but I dessay she'll be good now, and p'raps you'd
better----but what's the matter, mummie? Are you going to be seasick?"
for his mother had turned deathly white, and was holding on to the wall
for support.

"My baby, my little one!" she gasped; then, pulling herself together
with a sudden effort, she rushed towards the stairs; little Jack,
bewildered, but suddenly overcome by a strange feeling of awe, following
in the rear. As she reached the deck, she became aware that the liner
had stopped; there was a great commotion among the passengers; she heard
some one say, "Good dog! brave fellow!" and Rover, pushing his way
between the excited people, brought to her feet a dripping, wailing
bundle, which she strained to her heart, and fainted away.

Need I narrate what had happened? When little Jack had "put naughty baby
through the porthole," Rover was on deck with his two front paws up on
the side of the vessel, watching intently some sea-gulls dipping in the
waves. He suddenly saw the little white bundle touch the water; some
marvellous instinct told him it was his little charge, and he gave a
sudden leap over the side. A sailor of the crew saw him disappear, and
gave the alarm: "Stop the ship! man overboard!"

A boat was lowered, and in a few seconds Rover was on deck again,
holding baby Lily fast between his jaws.

Mrs. West never left her children alone after that; and when, a few days
later, on the quay at New York, she was clasped in her husband's arms,
she told him, between her sobs, how near he had been to never seeing his
little daughter.



MY GRANDMOTHER'S ADVENTURE.

_A STORY FOUNDED ON FACT._

BY ALFRED H. MILES.


My grandmother was one of the right sort. She was a fine old lady with
all her faculties about her at eighty-six, and with a memory that could
recall the stirring incidents of the earlier part of the century with a
vividness which made them live again in our eager eyes and ears. She was
born with the century and was nearly fifteen years old when Napoleon
escaped from Elba, and the exciting circumstances that followed,
occurring as they did at the most impressionable period of her life,
became indelibly fixed upon her mind. She had relatives and friends who
had distinguished themselves in the Peninsula war, in memory of one of
whom, who fell in the last grand charge at Waterloo, she always wore a
mourning ring.

But it was not at Waterloo that my grandmother met with the adventure
which it is now my business to chronicle. It was a real genuine
adventure, however, and it befell her a year or so after the final fall
of Napoleon, and in a quiet, secluded spot in the county of Wiltshire,
England, not far from Salisbury Plain; but as I am quite sure I cannot
improve upon the dear old lady's oft-repeated version of the story, I
will try and tell it as it fell from those dear, worn lips now for ever
silent in the grave.

"I was in my sixteenth year when it was decided that, all fear of
foreign invasion being over, I should be sent to London to complete my
education and to receive those finishing touches in manners and
deportment 'which a metropolis of wealth and fashion alone can give.'

"Never having left home before, I looked forward to my journey with some
feeling of excitement and not a little of foreboding and dread. I could
not quite make up my mind whether I was really sorry or glad. The quiet
home life to which I had been accustomed, varied only by occasional
visits from the more old-fashioned of the local country families, made
me long for the larger life, which I knew must belong to the biggest
city in the world (life which I was simple enough to think I might see a
great deal of even from the windows of a boarding-school), and made me
look forward with joyful anticipation to my journey; while the fear of
flying from the humdrum that I knew, to discipline I knew not of, made
me temper my anticipations with misgivings and cloud my hopes with
fears. To put the matter practically, I think I was generally glad when
I got up in the morning and sorry when I went to bed at night.

"My father's house stood about a hundred yards from the main road, some
three miles west of Salisbury, and in order to take my passage for
London, it was necessary that I should be driven into Salisbury in the
family buggy to join the Exeter mail. I well remember the start. My
carpet-bag and trunk had been locked and unlocked a great many times
before they were finally signed, sealed, and delivered to the old
man-servant who acted as gardener, coachman, and general factotum to our
household, and when we started off my father placed a book in my hands,
that I might have something with me to beguile the tedium of the
journey. My father accompanied me as far as Salisbury to bespeak the
care and attention of the guard on my behalf, but finding that the only
other inside passenger was an old gentleman of whom he had some slight
knowledge, he commended me to my fellow-passenger's protection, and with
many admonitions as to my future conduct, left me to pursue the journey
in his company.

"I was feeling rather dull after my companion had exhausted the
commonplaces of conversation, and experienced a strange loneliness when
I saw that he had fallen fast asleep in his comfortable corner enveloped
in rugs and furs. Driven in upon my own resources I opened my book, and
began to read, though the faint light of the coach lamp did not offer me
much encouragement.

"The volume was one of 'Travel and Adventure,' and told of the
experiences of the writer even in the lion's mouth. It recounted
numerous hair-breadth escapes from the tender mercies of savage animals,
and described them with such thrilling detail that I soon became
conscious of those creepy sensations which are so well calculated to
make us take fright at the least unusual circumstance. I had just got to
a part at which a wounded lion had struck down his intrepid hunter and
was standing with one paw upon his breast roaring his defiance to the
four winds of heaven, when suddenly the coach pulled up with a
suddenness that threw me into the arms of my companion and somewhat
unceremoniously aroused him from his slumber. The next moment the coach
rolled back a few paces and the next plunged forward a few more.
Meanwhile, the shouts and cries of the outside passengers and the
rumbling and clambering on the roof of the coach made it clear that
something terrible had happened. Naturally nervous, and rendered doubly
so by the narrative I had been reading, I concluded that all Africa was
upon us and that either natives or wild animals would soon eat us up. My
companion was no less excited than I was, excitement that was in no way
lessened by his sense of responsibility for my welfare, and perceiving a
house close to the road but a few yards in the rear of the coach, he
hurried me out of the vehicle with more speed than ceremony, and in
another moment was almost dragging me towards the door. As we alighted,
our speed was suddenly accelerated by the unmistakable roar of some wild
beast which had apparently leapt out of the leaves of the book I had
been reading and was attempting to illustrate the narrative which had so
thrilled my imagination. There was no mistake about it now; some wild
beast had attacked the coach, and I was already, in thought, lying
prostrate beneath his feet. The next thing that I remember was awakening
in the presence of an eager and interested group gathered round a fire
in the waiting-room of a village post-house.

"Many versions of the story were current for years among the gossips of
the country-side, and they differed very materially in the details of
the narrative. One said it was a tiger which was being conveyed to the
gardens of the Zoological Society in London, another that it was a
performing bear which had suddenly gone mad and killed its keeper while
on its way to Salisbury Fair. Of course the papers published various
accounts of it, and the story with many variations found its way into
several books. As you know, I was not an eye-witness of the
circumstances any further than I have described them, so I am dependent
upon others for the true account of the facts. The fullest account that
I have seen in print appeared in a book I bought many years after the
event, and now if you will get me my spectacles I will read you the
remainder of the story from that volume.

"'Not many years ago, a curious example of the ferocity of the lioness
occurred in England. The Exeter mail-coach, on its way to London, was
attacked on Sunday night, October 20th, 1816, at Winter's Law-Hut, seven
miles from Salisbury, in a most extraordinary manner. At the moment when
the coachman pulled up, to deliver his bags, one of the leading horses
was suddenly seized by a ferocious animal. This produced a great
confusion and alarm. Two passengers, who were inside the mail, got out,
and ran in the house. The horse kicked and plunged violently; and it was
with difficulty the coachman could prevent the carriage from being
overturned. It was soon observed by the coachman and guard, by the light
of the lamps, that the animal which had seized the horse was a huge
lioness. A large mastiff dog came up and attacked her fiercely, on which
she quitted the horse, and turned upon him. The dog fled, but was
pursued and killed by the lioness, within about forty yards of the
place. It appears that the beast had escaped from a caravan, which was
standing on the roadside, and belonged to a menagerie, on its way to
Salisbury Fair. An alarm being given, the keepers pursued and hunted the
lioness, carrying the dog in her teeth, into a hovel under a granary,
which served for keeping agricultural implements. About half-past eight,
they had secured her effectually by barricading the place, so as to
prevent her escape. The horse, when first attacked, fought with great
spirit; and if he had been at liberty, would probably have beaten down
his antagonist with his fore-feet; but in plunging, he embarrassed
himself in the harness. The lioness, it appears, attacked him in front,
and springing at his throat, had fastened the talons of her fore-feet on
each side of his gullet, close to the head, while the talons of her
hind-feet were forced into the chest. In this situation she hung, while
the blood was seen streaming, as if a vein had been opened by a lancet.
The furious animal missed the throat and jugular vein; but the horse was
so dreadfully torn, that he was not at first expected to survive. The
expressions of agony, in his tears and moans, were most piteous and
affecting. Whether the lioness was afraid of her prey being taken from
her, or from some other cause, she continued a considerable time after
she had entered the hovel roaring in a dreadful manner, so loud, indeed,
that she was distinctly heard at the distance of half a mile. She was
eventually secured, and taken to her den; and the proprietor of the
menagerie did not fail to take advantage of the incident, by having a
representation of the attack painted in the most captivating colours and
hung up in front of his establishment.'"

My dear old grandmother quite expected to see "the lions" when she
reached London, but she was not quite prepared to meet a lioness even
half way.



A TERRIBLE CHRISTMAS EVE.

BY LUCIE E. JACKSON.


I was always a very fearless girl. I do not say I never knew what fear
was, for on the occasion I am about to relate I was distinctly
frightened; but I was able to bear myself through it as if I felt
nothing, and by this means to reassure my poor mother, who perhaps
realised the danger more thoroughly than I did.

Norah says if it had happened to her she would just have died of fright,
and I do think she would have, for she is so delicate and timid, and has
such very highly-strung nerves. Mother and I always call it our
adventure. I, with a laugh now; but mother, always with a shudder and a
paling of her sweet face, for she and Norah are very much alike in
constitution. She says if I had not been her stay and backbone on that
occasion she must surely have let those awful French people rob her of
all she possessed. But I am going on too fast.

It happened in this way. Father had some business to transact in France
in connection with his firm, and had gone off in high spirits, for after
the business was finished and done with he had arranged to do a little
travelling on his own account with Mr. Westover--an old chum of his.

We had heard regularly from him as having a very good time till one
morning the post brought a letter to say he had contracted a low fever
and was lying sick at a wayside inn. He begged us not to be alarmed for
his friend was very attentive, and he hoped soon to be himself again.
Mother was unhappy, we saw that, but Norah and I tried to cheer her up
by saying how strong father always was, and how soon he shook off any
little illness. It was his being sick away from home and in a foreign
country that troubled her.

A few days after a telegram arrived from Mr. Westover. He said mother
must come at once, for the doctor had serious misgivings as to the turn
the fever might take.

"Mother, you must take Phyllis with you," decided Norah, who was
trembling from head to foot, but trying to appear calm for mother's
sake.

I looked up at mother with eager eyes, for though the thought of dear
father lying dangerously ill chilled me all over, yet the idea of
travelling to France made my heart leap within me.

Mother was packing a handbag when Norah spoke. She looked up and saw my
eyes round with delight.

"Yes," she said, "I would prefer a companion. Phyllis, get ready at
once, for we haven't much time."

Her voice sounded as if tears were in it, and I sprang up and kissed her
before rushing away to my room.

My little bag was packed before mother's, but then she had money
arrangements to make which I had not.

Two hours after the receipt of the telegram we were driving down the
road to the railway station two miles from our home.

Our journey was of no moment at first starting. We crossed the water
without any mishap, and on arriving at Dunkirk bore the Custom-house
officers' searching of our handbags with a stoical calmness. What
mattered such trifles when our one thought, our one hope lay in the
direction of that wayside inn where father lay tossing in delirium?

We spent one night at an hotel, and the next morning, which was
Christmas Eve, we were up early to catch the first express to Brives.
From Brives to Fleur another train would take us, and the rest of our
journey would have to be accomplished by _diligence_.

It was cold, bitterly cold, and I saw mother's eyes look apprehensively
up to the leaden sky. I knew she was fearing a heavy fall of snow which
might interrupt our journey.

We reached Fleur at three o'clock in the afternoon, and took the
_diligence_ that was awaiting the train. Then what mother feared took
place. Snow began to fall--heavy snow, and the horses in the _diligence_
began to labour after only one hour's storm. Mother's face grew paler
and paler. I did not dare to look at her, or to think what we should do
if the snow prevented us getting much farther. And father! what would
father do! After two hours' weary drive we sighted the first stopping
place.

"There is the inn!" said a portly fellow-traveller. "And a good thing,
too, that we'll have a roof over our heads, for there will be no driving
farther for some days to come."

"We must make a jovial Christmas party by ourselves," said another old
gentleman, gathering all his belongings together in preparation for
getting out.

I looked at mother. Her face was blanched.

"But surely," she said, "this snow won't prevent the second _diligence_
taking my daughter and myself to the _Pomme d'Or_ at Creux? It is only a
matter of an hour from here."

"You'll get no _diligence_ either to-day or to-morrow, madame," was the
answer she received.

The inn was reached--a funny little old-fashioned place--and we all
descended ankle deep into the newly-fallen snow.

The landlord of the inn was waiting at the door, and invited us all in
with true French courtesy. The cosy kitchen we entered had a lovely wood
fire in the old-fashioned grate, and the dancing flames cast a cheery
light upon the whitewashed walls. Oh, if only this had been the inn
where father was staying! How gladly we would have rested our weary
limbs and revelled in that glorious firelight. But it was not to be.

Mother's idea of another _diligence_ was quite pooh-poohed.

"If it had been coming it would have been here before now," announced
the landlord.

"Then we must walk it," returned my mother.

"Impossible," was the landlord's answer, and the portly old gentleman
seconded him. "It is a matter of five miles from here."

"If I wish to see my husband alive I must walk it," said my mother in
tremulous tones.

There was a murmur of commiseration, and the landlord, a kindly, genial
old Frenchman, trotted to the door of the inn and looked out. He came
back presently, rubbing his cold hands.

"The snow has ceased, the stars are coming out. If Madame insists----"
he shrugged his shoulders.

"We shall walk it if you will kindly direct us the way."

As she spoke my mother picked up her handbag, and I stooped for mine,
but was arrested by a deep voice saying,--

"I am going part of the way. If madame will allow me I will walk with
her."

I saw the landlord's open brow contract, and I turned to look at the
speaker. He was a tall, dark, low-browed man, with shaggy black hair and
deep-set eyes. He had been sitting there on our arrival, and I had not
liked his appearance at first sight. I now hoped that mother would not
accept his company. But mother, too intent on getting to her journey's
end, jumped at the offer.

"_Merci, monsieur_," she said gratefully. "We will start at once if you
have no objection."

The fellow got on his feet at once, and stretching out his hand took a
slouched hat off the chair behind him and clapped it on his head. I did
see mother give him one furtive look then--it gave him such a
brigand-like appearance, but she resolutely turned away, and thanked the
landlord for the short shelter he had afforded us. She was producing her
purse, but the landlord, with a hasty glance in the direction of our
escort, motioned her to put it away. He and the two gentlemen came to
see us start, the landlord causing me some little comfort by calling
after us that he would make inquiries as soon as he was able, as to
whether we had reached our destination in safety.

Our escort started ahead of us, and we followed close on his footsteps.
We had journeyed so for two miles, plodding heavily and slowly along,
for the snow was deep and the wind was cutting. Our companion never once
spoke, and would only look occasionally over his shoulder to see if we
were keeping up with him, and I was beginning to lose my fear of him and
call myself a coward for being afraid, when suddenly the snow began
again. This time it came down in whirling drifts penetrating through all
our warm clothing, and making our walking heavier and more laboured than
before. It was all we could do to keep our feet, for the wind whistled
and moaned, threatening at every turn to bear us away.

Then only did our companion speak.

"_C'est mauvais_," he shouted above the storm, and his voice, sounding
so gruff and deep and so unexpected, made me jump in the air.

Mother assented in her gentle voice, and we plodded on as before, I
wishing with all my heart that we had never left that cosy kitchen, for
I could not see how we were to cover another three miles in this
fashion. I said not a word, however, for I would not have gainsaid
mother in this journey, considering how much there was at stake.

It was she herself who came to a standstill after walking another half
mile.

"Monsieur," she called faintly, "I do not think I can go farther."

He turned round then and, was it my fancy? but I thought, as he retraced
his steps to our side, that an evil grin was making his ugly face still
uglier.

"Madame is tired. I am not surprised, but if she can manage just five
minutes' more walk we shall reach my own house, where she can have
shelter."

Mother was grateful for his offer. She thanked him and continued her
weary walk till a sudden bend in the road brought us almost upon a small
house situated right on the road, looking dark and gloomy enough, with
just one solitary light shining dimly through the darkness.

The fellow paused here with his hand on the latch, and I noticed a small
sign-board swaying and creaking in the wind just above our heads. This
then was an inn too? Why then had the landlord of that other inn cast
such suspicious glances at the proposal of this man?

Such questions were answerable only the next morning, for just now I was
too weary to care where I spent the night as I stumbled after mother
into a dark passage, and then onwards to a room where the faint light
had been dimly discernible from outside.

In that room there was an ugly old woman--bent and aged--cooking
something over a small fire; and crouched upon a low seat near the stove
sat a hunchbacked man, swarthy, black-haired, and ugly too. My heart
gave one leap, and then sank down into my shoes. What kind of a house
had we come into to spend a whole night?

Our escort said something rapidly in French--too rapidly for me to
follow, and then motioned us to sit down as he placed two wooden chairs
for us. Mother sank down, almost too wearied to return the greeting
which the old hag by the fire accorded her.

The hunchback eyed us without a word, but when I summoned up courage to
occasionally glance in his direction I fancied that a sinister smile
crossed his face, making him look curiously like our escort.

Two bowls of soup were put down before us, and the old woman hospitably
pressed us to partake of it. The whole family sat down to the same meal,
but the hunchback had his in his seat by the fire. It was cabbage soup,
and neither mother nor I fancied it very much, but for politeness' sake
we took a few spoonfuls, and ate some of the coarse brown bread, of
which there was plenty on the table.

The warmth of the room was beginning to have effect on me, and my body
was so inexpressibly weary that I felt half dozing in my seat, and my
eyelids would close in spite of myself.

All of a sudden I heard mother give a little scream. I was wide awake
in an instant, and to my amazement saw the hunchback crawling on his
hands and knees under the table. My mother's lips were white and
trembling as she stooped to pick up the purse she had let fall in her
fright, but before she could do so our escort stooped down and handed it
to her with a--

"_Permettez moi, madame._"

At the same time he kicked out under the table, muttering an oath as he
did so, and the hunchback returned to his seat by the fire and nursed
his knees with his sinister grin.

Mother began to apologise for her little scream.

"I am very tired," she said, addressing the old woman; "and if it will
not inconvenience you, my daughter and I would much like to retire for
the night, as we wish to be up early to continue our journey."

The old woman lighted a candle, looking at our escort as she did so.

"Which room?" she asked.

He gave a jerk of his head indicating a room above the one we were in;
and then he opened the door very politely for us, and hoped we'd have a
pleasant night.

I could not resist the inclination to look back at the hunchback. He had
left off nursing his knees, but his whole body was convulsed with silent
laughter, and he was holding up close to his eyes a gold coin.

The room the old woman conducted us to was a long one, with half-a-dozen
steps leading up to it. She bade us good night and closed the door,
leaving us with the lighted candle.

The minute the door closed upon her, I darted to it. But horrors! there
was no key, no bolt, nothing to fasten ourselves in. I looked at mother.
She was sitting on the bed, and beckoned me with her finger to come
close. I did so. She whispered,--

"Phyllis, be brave for my sake. I have done a foolish thing in bringing
you to this house. I distrust these people."

"So do I," I whispered back.

"That purse of mine that fell--they saw what was in it."

"Did it fall open?"

"Yes, and a napoleon rolled out--that hunchback picked it up and put it
into his pocket. He did not think I saw him."

"How much money have you got altogether?"

"Twenty napoleons, and a few francs."

"And they saw all that?"

"I am afraid so. Of course they could not tell how much there was. They
saw a number of coins. If they attempt to rob us of it all to-night we
shall have nothing to continue our journey to-morrow. And how we can
keep it from them I don't know."

Mother's face was white and drawn. Father and Norah would not have
recognised her.

"We shall hide it from them," I answered as bravely as I could. I would
not let mother see that I was nervous.

The room was bare of everything but just the necessary furniture. A more
difficult place to hide anything could not easily be found. Every
article of ours would be ransacked, I felt sure. Our handbags would be
searched; our clothes ditto. Where on earth could we put that purse?

I was sitting on the bed as I looked round the room. We would, of
course, be lying in the bed when they came to search the room, and even
our pillows would not be safe from their touch. Stay! What did the bed
clothes consist of? A hasty examination disclosed two blankets and a
sheet, and under those the mattress. That mattress gave me an idea. I
had found a hiding-place.

"Have you scissors and needle and cotton in your bag?" I whispered.

Mother nodded. "I think Norah put my sewing case in."

She opened it. Yes, everything was to hand.

With her help I turned the mattress right up, and made an incision in
the middle of the ticking.

"Give me the money," I said in a low voice.

She handed it silently. I slipped each coin carefully into the incision.

"We'll leave them the francs," mother whispered. "They might ... they
might ... wish to harm us if they found nothing."

I nodded. Then with the aid of the needle and cotton I stitched up the
opening I had made, and without more ado we took off our outer clothes,
our boots and stockings, and lay down in the bed.

But not to sleep! We neither of us closed an eyelid, so alert were we
for the expected footstep on the other side of the door.

They gave us a reasonable time to go to sleep. Our extinguished candle
told them we were in bed. Near about twelve o'clock our strained hearing
detected the sound of a slight fumbling at the door. It opened, and the
moonlight streaming in through the uncurtained windows showed us,
through our half-shut eyelids, the figures of our escort and the
hunchback. They moved like cats about the room. It struck me even then
that they were used to these midnight searches.

A thrill of fear went through me as the hunchback passed the bed, but a
dogged persistency was with me still that they should not have our
money. Our handbags were taken out of the room, doubtless to be examined
at leisure by the old woman, and mulct of anything valuable. We heard a
slight clink of money which meant the purse was emptied. Our clothes
were shaken and examined, even our boots were looked into.

Lastly they came to the bed. My eyes were glued then to my cheeks, and
mother's must have been so as well. I could not see what they did, but I
could feel them. They were practised though in their handling of our
pillows, for had I been really asleep I should never have felt anything.

They looked everywhere, they felt everywhere, everywhere but in the
right place, and then with a hardly-concealed murmur of dissatisfaction
they went from the room, closing the door after them. Mother and I lay
quiet. The only thing we did was to hold one another's hands under the
bed-clothes, and to press our shoulders close together.

Only once again did the door open, and that was to admit our escort, who
had brought back our handbags.

And then the door closed for good and all, but we never said a word all
the long night through, though each knew and felt that the other was
awake. The grey dawn stealing in saw us with eyes strained and wide, and
we turned and looked at each other, and mother kissed me. It was
Christmas Day.

Our hearts were braver with the daylight, and what was joy unspeakable
was to see the snow melting fast away under the heavy thaw that had set
in during the early hours of the dawn. Our journey could be pursued
without much difficulty, for if need be we could walk every step of the
way.

When it was quite light we got up and dressed. I undid my stitching of
the night before, gave mother back the gold safe and intact, and then
sewed up the incision as neatly as I could.

We went down hatted and cloaked to the room we had supped in the night
before. It presented no change. Over the fire the old woman bent,
stirring something in a saucepan; our escort was seated at the table,
and by the stove sat the hunchback nursing his knees--with only one
difference,--there was no grin upon his face. He looked like a man
thwarted.

We had just bade them good morning and the old woman was asking us how
we had slept, when the noise of wheels and horses' feet sounded outside.
It was the second _diligence_. The landlord of the inn had told the
conductor to call and see if we had been forced to take refuge in our
escort's house. The jovial conductor was beaming all over as he stamped
his wet feet on the stone floor of the kitchen, laughing at the
miraculous disappearance of all the snow. His very presence seemed to
put new life into us.

"And what am I indebted to you," asked mother, "for the kindly shelter
you have afforded us?"

Our escort shrugged his shoulders. "Whatever madame wishes," was his
reply.

So mother placed a napoleon upon the table. It was too much, I always
maintained, after all the francs they had robbed from the purse, and the
gold piece the hunchback had picked up, but it was the smallest coin
mother had, and she told me afterwards she didn't grudge it, for our
lives had been spared us as well as the bulk of our money.

The _diligence_ rattled briskly along, and we reached the _Pomme d'Or_
to find that father's illness had taken a favourable turn during that
terrible night, and the only thing he needed now was care and good
nursing. When he was well again he reported our experiences to the
police, and we had good reason to believe that no credulous wayfarer
ever had to undergo the terrible ordeal that we did that night. The
house was ever after kept under strict police surveillance.



A NIGHT OF HORROR.

BY ALFRED H. MILES.


The jaguar, otherwise known as the American leopard, belongs to the
forests of South America, and has many points of difference from, as
well as some of similarity with, the leopard of Asia. Though ferocious
in his wild state, he is amenable to civilising influences and becomes
mild and tame in captivity. He is an excellent swimmer and an expert
climber, ascending to the tops of high branchless trees by fixing his
claws in the trunks. It is said that he can hunt in the trees almost as
well as he can upon the ground, and that hence he becomes a formidable
enemy to the monkeys. He is also a clever fisherman, his method being
that of dropping saliva on to the surface of the water, and upon the
approach of a fish, by a dexterous stroke of his paw knocking it out of
the water on to the bank.

But the jaguar by no means confines his attention to hunting monkeys and
defenceless fish. He will hunt big game, and when hungry will not
hesitate to attack man.

The strength of the jaguar is very great, and as he can climb, swim, and
leap a great distance, he seems to be almost equally formidable in three
elements. He is said to attack the alligator and to banquet with evident
relish off his victim. D'Azara says that on one occasion he found a
jaguar feasting upon a horse which it had killed. The jaguar fled at his
approach, whereupon he had the body of the horse dragged to within a
musket shot of a tree in which he purposed watching for the jaguar's
return. While temporarily absent he left a man to keep watch, and while
he was away the jaguar reappeared on the opposite side of a river which
was both deep and broad. Having crossed the river the animal approached,
and seized the horse with his teeth, dragged it some sixty paces to the
water side, plunged in with it, swam across the river, pulled it out
upon the other side, and carried it into a neighbouring wood.

Such an animal could not but be a formidable foe to any one who had the
misfortune to be unarmed when attacked, as many an early settler in the
Western States of America found to his cost. Among such experiences, the
following story of a night of horror told by Mrs. Bowdich stands out as
a tale of terror scarcely likely to be surpassed.

Two of the early settlers in the Western States of America, a man and
his wife, once closed their wooden hut, and went to pay a visit at a
distance, leaving a freshly-killed piece of venison hanging inside. The
gable end of this house was not boarded up as high as the roof, but a
large aperture was left for light and air. By taking an enormous leap, a
hungry jaguar, attracted by the smell of the venison, had entered the
hut and devoured part of it. He was disturbed by the return of the
owners, and took his departure. The venison was removed. The husband
went away the night after to a distance, and left his wife alone in the
hut. She had not been long in bed before she heard the jaguar leap in at
the open gable. There was no door between her room and that in which he
had entered, and she knew not how to protect herself. She, however,
screamed as loudly as she could, and made all the violent noises she
could think of, which served to frighten him away at that time; but she
knew he would come again, and she must be prepared for him. She tried to
make a large fire, but the wood was expended. She thought of rolling
herself up in the bed-clothes, but these would be torn off. The idea of
getting under the low bedstead suggested itself, but she felt sure a paw
would be stretched forth which would drag her out. Her husband had taken
all their firearms. At last, as she heard the jaguar this time
scrambling up the end of the house, she in despair got into a large
store chest, the lid of which closed with a spring. Scarcely was she
within it, and had dragged the lid down, inserting her fingers between
it and the side of the chest, when the jaguar discovered where she was.
He smelt round the chest, tried to get his head in through the crack,
but fortunately he could not raise the lid. He found her fingers and
began to lick them; she felt them bleed, but did not dare to move them
for fear she should be suffocated. At length the jaguar leaped on to the
lid, and his weight pressing down the lid, fractured these fingers.
Still she could not move. He smelt round again, he pulled, he leaped on
and off, till at last getting tired of his vain efforts, he went away.
The poor woman lay there till daybreak, and then only feeling safe from
her enemy, she went as fast as her strength would let her to her nearest
neighbour's, a distance of two miles, where she procured help for her
wounded fingers, which were long in getting well. On his return, her
husband found a male and female jaguar in the forest close by, with
their cubs, and all were destroyed.

Human hair has been known to turn white in a single night, and is often
said to do so in the pages of fiction. Whether it did so or not in the
present case is not recorded, but certainly if it did not, it lost an
exceptional opportunity.



AUNT GRIEVES' SILVER.

BY LUCIE E. JACKSON.


When Kate Hamilton's father had been dead six months, and Kate had had
time to realise that the extensive sheep station belonged to her and to
her alone--that she, in fact, was what the shearers called "the
boss"--then did she sit down and pen a few lines to her aunt in
England--her father's only sister. She did not exactly know what
possessed her to do it. She had never at any time during her nineteen
years corresponded with her aunt; it was her father who had kept up the
tie between his sister and himself. But notwithstanding that she was now
"boss," perhaps a craving for a little of the sympathy and the great
affection with which her father had always surrounded her, had something
to do with her wishing to get up a correspondence with his sister.
Whatever the reason the impulse was there, and the letter was despatched
to the England that Kate had never seen except through her father's
eyes.

A few weeks later she received an answer that filled her with surprise.

After a few preliminary remarks relating to the grief she felt at the
news of her brother's death, Mrs. Grieves wrote as follows:

     "Your cousin Cicely and I cannot bear to think of your
     being alone--young girl that you are--without a single
     relative near for comfort or advice. I have made up my mind
     to start for Australia as soon as I can arrange my affairs
     satisfactorily. There is nothing to keep us in England
     since Cicely's father died last year, and I long to see my
     brother's only child. Moreover, the voyage will do Cicely
     good, for she is very fragile, and the doctor warmly
     approves of the idea. So adieu, my dear child, till we
     meet. I shall send a cablegram the day before our vessel
     starts.

                                "Your affectionate aunt,
                                           "CAROLINE GRIEVES."

Kate's face was a study when she had finished reading the letter.
Surprise she certainly felt, and a little amusement, too, to think that
she--an Australian bush-born girl--could not look after herself and her
affairs without an English aunt and an English cousin travelling many
thousands of miles across the water to aid her with their advice.

Hadn't she been for the last three years her father's right hand in the
store, and in the shearing-shed, too, for that matter? Didn't she
understand thoroughly how the books were kept? For this very reason her
father, knowing full well that the complaint from which he suffered
would sooner or later cause his death, had kept her cognisant of how the
station should be managed. And now these English relatives were leaving
their beautiful English home to give her advice upon matters that they
were totally ignorant of!

Kate sat down with the letter in her hand and laughed. Then she looked
sober. It would after all be pleasant to see some of her own relatives,
not one of which--either on her dead mother's or her father's side--did
she possess in Australia.

Yes, after all, the idea, on closer investigation, did not seem at all
disagreeable, and Kate took up the letter again and read it with
pleasure this time.

Even if she had wished to put a stop to the intended visit, she could
not have had time, for three weeks later she received the cablegram:

     "_We are leaving by the steamer Europia._"

She really felt a thrill of joy as she read this. She could now
calculate upon the day they were likely to arrive. The days flew fast
enough, for Kate had not time to sit down and dream over the appearance
of the travellers. The "boss" was wanted everywhere, and she must needs
know the why and wherefore of matters pertaining to account-books,
shearing sheds, cattle-yards, stores, and everything relating to the
homestead.

"It is good you were born with your father's business head," said Phil
Wentworth, with a scarcely concealed look of admiration.

He was the manager of the station at Watakona. Mr. Hamilton had chosen
him five years before to be his representative over the shearing-shed
and stores, finding him after that length of time fully capable of
performing all and more than was expected of him. He was a good-looking
young man of thirty, with a bright, cheery manner, that had a good
effect upon those employed at the station.

"Not a grumble from one of the men has ever been heard since Wentworth
came here as manager," Kate's father had often said to her. "So
different from that rascal Woods, who treated some of the men as if they
were dogs, and allowed many a poor sheep to go shorn to its pen cut and
bleeding from overhaste, with never a word of remonstrance."

And Kate bore that in mind, as also some of her father's last words:

"Don't ever be persuaded to part with Wentworth. He is far and away the
best man I have ever had for the business."


At last the day came when Mrs. Grieves and her daughter Cicely arrived
at Watakona.

There was a comical smile on the manager's good-looking face as trunk
after trunk was lifted down off the waggon, and Kate's aunt announced
that "there was more to come."

"More to come!" answered Kate, surprised. And then, bursting into a
laugh, "Dear aunt, what can you have brought that will be of any use to
you in this out-of-the-way place?"

Mrs. Grieves smilingly nodded her head. "There is not one trunk there
that I could possibly do without."

And Kate, with another smile, dismissed the subject.

But not so her aunt. When they were all seated together after a
comfortable tea, she began in a whisper, looking round cautiously first
to see that no one was within hearing:

"You are curious, Kate dear, to know what those trunks contain?"

"My curiosity can stay, aunt. I am only afraid that what you have
brought will be of no use to you. You see, I live such a quiet life
here, with few friends and fewer grand dresses, that I fear you will be
disappointed at not being able to wear any of the things you have
brought."

Cicely, a pretty, delicate-looking girl, laughed merrily.

"They do not hold dresses, Kate. No, I have not thought to lead a gay
life on a sheep station in Australia. What I have brought is something
that I could not bear to leave behind. Those trunks contain all the
silver I used to use in my English home."

"Silver! What kind of silver?"

"Teapots, cream ewers, épergnes, candlesticks, to say nothing of the
spoons, forks, fish-knives, etc.," said Cicely gaily.

"You've brought all those things with you here?" cried Kate, horrified.
"Oh, aunt, where can I put them all for safety?"

Mrs. Grieves looked nonplussed. "I suppose you have some iron safes----"
she began.

"But not big enough to store that quantity of silver!"

Kate spent a restless night. Visions of bushrangers stood between her
and sleep. What would she do with that silver?

"Bank it," suggested Phil Wentworth the next morning, as she explained
her difficulty to him in the little counting-house after breakfast.

Kate shook her head. "Aunt wouldn't do it. If she did she might as well
have banked it in England."

The manager pulled his moustache. "How much is there?"

"I haven't seen it, but from what Cicely says I should say there are
heaps and heaps."

"Foolish woman," was the manager's thought, but he wisely kept it to
himself.

When, however, the silver was laid before her very eyes, and piece after
piece was taken from the trunks, ranged alongside one another in Mrs.
Grieves's bedroom, Kate's heart failed her.

"Mr. Wentworth must see it and advise me," was all she could say. And
her aunt could not deter her.

Kate's white brow was puckered into a frown, and her pretty mouth
drooped slightly at the corners as she watched Mr. Wentworth making his
inspection of the silver. She knew his face so well, she could tell at
one glance that he was thinking her aunt an exceedingly foolish woman,
and Kate was not quite sure that she did not agree with him.

However, the silver was there, and they had to make the best of it, for
Mrs. Grieves utterly rejected the idea of having it conveyed to a bank
in Sydney.

"The only thing to do," said the manager gloomily, turning to Kate, "is
to place it under the trap-door in the counting-house."

Kate looked questioningly at him. He half smiled.

"I think that the only thing you are not aware of in the business is the
fact that the flooring of the counting-house can be converted at will
into a strong lock-up. Come, and I will show you."

The three women followed him. To Cicely's English eyes the entire
homestead was a strangely delightful place.

Rolling to one side the matting that covered the floor of the
counting-house, Mr. Wentworth paused, and introducing a lever between
the joining of two boards upheaved a square trap-door, revealing to the
eyes of the astonished English ladies, and the no less astonished
Australian "boss," a wide, gaping receptacle, suitable for the very
articles under discussion.

It looked dark and gloomy below, but on the manager's striking a wax
match and holding it aloft, they were enabled each one to descend the
short ladder which the opening of the flooring revealed. Beneath the
counting-house Kate found to her amazement a room quite as large as the
one above it, furnished with chairs, a table, and a couple of stout iron
safes. Upon the table stood an old iron candlestick into which Mr.
Wentworth inserted a candle lighted from his wax match.

"You never told me," were Kate's reproachful words, and still more
reproachful glance.

"I tell you now," he said lightly. "There was no need to before. Your
father showed it me when I had been here a year. Indeed, he and I often
forgot that the counting-house had been built for a double purpose,--but
that was because there was nothing to stow away of much value. Now I
think we have just the hiding-place for all that silver."

It was indeed the place, the very place, and under great secrecy the
silver was conveyed through the trap-door, and firmly locked into the
iron safes.

So far so good, and Kate breathed again with almost as much of her old
light-heartedness as before.

In spite of her doubt of the wisdom of bringing such valuables so far
and to such a place, she and Cicely took a secret delight in a weekly
cleaning up of the silver, secure of all observation from outsiders. It
was a pleasure to Kate to lift and polish the handsome épergne, and to
finger the delicate teaspoons and fanciful fish-knives and forks.

"What a haul this would be for a bushranger!" she said one day, as she
carefully laid the admired épergne back into its place in the iron safe.

Cicely gave a gasp and a shudder. "You--you don't have them in these
parts, surely!" she ejaculated.

"If they find there is anything worth lifting they'll visit any
homestead in the colony," returned Kate.

"But oh! dear Kate, what should we do if they came here? I should die of
fright."

"Yes, I'm afraid you would," said Kate, glancing compassionately at the
delicate figure beside her, and at the cheeks which had visibly lost
their pink colour. "No, Cicely, I don't think there is any chance of
such characters visiting us just now. The first and last time I saw a
bushranger was when I was fifteen years old. He and his men tried to
break into our house for, somehow, it had got wind that father had in
the house a large sum of money--money which of course he usually banked.
I can see dear old father now, standing with his rifle in his hand at
the dining-room window, and Mr. Wentworth standing beside him. They were
firing away at three men who were as much in earnest as my father and
his manager were."

"And what happened?" asked Cicely breathlessly, as Kate stopped to look
round for her polishing cloth.

"Father killed one man, the two others got away, not, however, before
Mr. Wentworth had shot away the forefinger of the leader. We found it
after they had gone, lying on the path beside the cattle-yard. He was a
terrible fellow, the leader of that bushranging crew. He went by the
name of Wolfgang. He may be alive now, I don't know. I have not heard of
any depredations committed by him for two or three years now."

"And I hope you never will," said Cicely with a shudder. "Kate, have you
done all you want to do here? I should so like to finish that letter to
send off by to-day's mail."

"Then go. I'll just stay to lock up. You haven't much time if you want
Sam Griffiths to take it this afternoon."

Cicely jumped up without another word, and climbed the ladder.

Kate lifted the case of fish-knives into the safe, and stretched out her
hand for the other articles without turning her head. She felt her hand
clutched as in a vice by fingers cold as ice. She turned sharply round.
Cicely was at her side with lips and cheeks devoid of colour.

"Good gracious, Cicely! what is the matter? How you startled me!" said
Kate in a vexed tone.

Cicely laid one cold, trembling, finger upon her cousin's lips.

"He has seen us--he has been looking down on us," was all she could
articulate.

"Who? What do you mean?" But Kate's voice was considerably lowered.

"The bushranger Wolfgang. He--he has seen all the silver!"

Kate broke into a nervous laugh. "I think you are dreaming, Cicely. How
do you know you saw Wolfgang? And how could he see us down here?"

"It is no dream," answered Cicely in the same husky whisper. "Kate, as I
climbed the ladder quickly I saw the face of a man disappear from the
trap-door, but not before I caught sight of the forefinger missing off
the hand that held one side of the trap-door. Kate, Kate, it was
Wolfgang. He has been staring down at us."

Kate looked up wildly at the opening above. It was free from all
intruders now. She locked every article into the safe without uttering a
word; then said, "Come."

Together they mounted the ladder; together they latched down the
trap-door; together they left the counting-house.

"Tell Sam to ride to the shed and ask Mr. Wentworth to come to me at
once--at once." Kate gave the order in a calm voice to the one woman
servant that did the work in the house.

"Sam isn't in the yards," was the answer. "He told me three hours ago
that he was wanted by Mr. Wentworth to ride to the township for
something or other. He was in a fine way about it, for he said it was
taking him from his work here."

Some of Kate's calm left her. She looked round at the helpless
women--three now, for her aunt had joined them.

"Aunt," she said, forcing herself to speak quietly, "I have fears that
this afternoon we shall be attacked by bushrangers. Unfortunately Sam
has been called away, and he is the only man we have on the premises.
There is not another within reach, except at the shearing-shed, and you
know where that is. Which of you will venture to ride there for help? I
dare not go, for I must protect the house."

She glanced at each of the three faces in turn, and saw no help there.
Becky, the servant, had utterly collapsed at the word bushranger; the
other two faces looked as if carved in stone.

"Kate, Kate, is there no other help near?"

"Not nearer than the shearing-shed, aunt."

"I daren't go. I couldn't ride that distance."

"Cicely?" Kate's tone was imploring.

"Don't ask me," and Cicely burst into a flood of tears.

"We must defend ourselves, then."

The Australian girl's voice was quiet, albeit it trembled slightly.

"Come to the counting-house. Becky, you come too. We must barricade the
place. I'll run round and fasten up every door. They will have a tough
job to get in," she murmured grimly.

How she thanked her father for the strong oak door! The oaken shutters
with their massive iron clamps! It would seem as if he had expected a
raid from bushrangers at some time or other in his life. The
counting-house door was stronger than the others. She now understood the
reason why. The room below had been taken into consideration when that
door was put up.

It was three o'clock in the afternoon. A broiling, sun-baking afternoon.
They were prepared, sitting, as it were, in readiness for the attack
they were momentarily expecting.

It came at last. The voice that sounded outside the counting-house door
took her back to the time when she was fifteen years of age. It was a
strange, harsh voice, grating in its harshness, strange in being like no
other. She remembered it to be the voice of the man that had challenged
her father that memorable day--remembered it to be the voice of
Wolfgang.

Like an evil bird of prey had he scented from afar the silver stored
under the trap-door, just as he had scented the sum of money her father
had hidden away in the house.

"It's no use your sheltering yourselves in there," said the voice. "We
want to harm no one--it's against our principles. What we want is just
the silver hidden under the counting-house, and we want nothing more."

With one finger upraised, cautioning silence, Kate saw for the twentieth
time to the priming of her rifle--the very rifle that had shot
Wolfgang's chief man four years before. There was no need for her to
caution her companions to silence. They knelt on the floor--a huddled,
trembling trio.

If only Kate could see how many men there were! But she could not.

"It will take them some time to batter in that door," thought she, "and
by that time, who knows, help may come from some unexpected quarter."

"Do you dare to defy us?" said the voice again. "We know you are utterly
helpless. Sam has been got out of the way by a cooked-up story, ditto
your manager. They are both swearing in the broiling township by now."
And the voice broke off with a loud "Ha! ha!"

At which two other voices echoed "Ha! ha! ha! ha!"

Kate strained her ears to catch the sounds. Were there only three, then,
just as there had been three four years before?

Then ensued a battering at the door, but it stood like a rock. They were
tiring at that game. It hurt them, and did no good. There was silence
for the space of some minutes, and then the sound of scraping reached
Kate's ears.

What were they doing now?

It sounded on the roof of the counting-house. O God! they were never
going to make an entrance that way!

Scrape, scrape, scrape. The sound went on persistently.

Kate's face was hidden in her hands. Was she praying? thought Cicely.
Then she, too, lifted up a silent prayer for help in their time of need.

Kate's voice whispering in her ear aroused her. "Come," she breathed.

And with one accord, without a question, the three followed her
silently.

The room beyond the counting-house was up a narrow flight of stairs. It
used to be called by Kate, in derision, "Father's observatory." Through
a small pane of glass in this room she could see the roof of the
counting-house.

Sawing away at the wooden structure upon which he was perched sat
Wolfgang himself, whilst the man beside him was busily engaged in
removing the thatch piece by piece.

Kate waited to see no more. Raising her rifle to her shoulder she
fired--fired straight at the leading bushranger.

She saw him stagger and roll--roll down the sloping roof, and fall with
a dull thud to the ground below.

She could only lean against the wall, and hide her face in her trembling
hands. Was he dead? Had she killed him? Or had the fall off the house
completed the deed?

She felt a hand on her arm. Becky was standing beside her. "Give me the
rifle," she breathed. "I can load it."

With a faint feeling of surprise at her heart, Kate handed her the
weapon with fingers slightly unsteady. She received it back in silence,
and mounted to her place of observation again.

Wolfgang's companion was crouching. His attitude struck Kate
disagreeably. His back was turned to her. What was he looking at?

She strained her eyes, and descried, galloping at the top of his speed,
Black Bounce, and on his back was Phil Wentworth. Behind him at
breakneck pace came six of the shearers--tall, brawny men, the very
sight of whom inspired courage.

Wentworth's rifle was raised. A shot rang through the air. Then another.
And yet another. Bang! bang! bang! What had happened?

Kate, straining her eyes, only knew that just as the manager's rifle
went off, the bushranger on the roof had fired at him, not, however,
before Kate's shot disabled him in the arm, thus preventing his aim from
covering the manager.

"Thank God, thank God, we are saved!" she cried.

And now that the danger was over, Kate sank down upon the floor of the
"observatory," and sobbed as if her heart would break.

Becky--her bravery returning as the sound of horses' hoofs struck upon
her ear--slipped from the room, leaving Mrs. Grieves and Cicely to play
the part of consolers to her young mistress.

It appeared that a trumped-up story, purporting to come from one of his
friends in the township, had caused Phil Wentworth to go there that
morning, and that on his way he overtook Sam Griffiths, who grumpily
asked him why he should have been ordered to the township when his hands
were so full of work at home. This led the young manager to scent
something wrong, and telling Griffiths to follow him home quickly he
rode straight back to the shed, and getting some of the shearers to
accompany him, made straight tracks for the house.

Mrs. Grieves and Cicely had by this time had as much as they cared for
of bush life, and very shortly after announced that the Australian
climate did not suit either Cicely or herself as she had hoped it might,
and that they had made up their minds to return to England.

"I hope they intend to take their silver away with them," said the
manager when Kate told him.

She replied with a laugh, "Oh yes, I don't believe aunt would think life
worth living if she had not her silver with her."

Poor Aunt Grieves! the vessel she travelled by had to be abandoned
before it reached England, and the silver she had suffered so much for
lies buried in the sands of the deep.

As for Kate, she subsequently took Philip Wentworth into partnership,
and he gave her his name.



BILLJIM.

BY S. LE SOTGILLE.


Nestling in the scrub at the head of a gully running into the Newanga
was a typical Australian humpy. It was built entirely of bark. Roof,
back, front, and sides were huge sheets of stringy bark, and the window
shutters were of the same, the windows themselves being sheets of
calico; also the two doors were whole sheets of bark swung upon leathern
hinges.

The humpy was divided into three rooms, two bedrooms and a general room.
The "galley" was just outside, a three-sided, roofed arrangement, and
the ubiquitous bark figured in that adjunct of civilisation.

In springtime the roof and sides of this humpy were one huge blaze of
Bougainvillæa, and not a vestige of bark was visible. It was surrounded
by a paling fence, rough split bush palings only, but in every way
fitted for what they were intended to do--that is, keep out animals of
all descriptions.

In the front garden were flowers of every conceivable hue and variety,
from the flaring giant sunflower to the quiet retiring geranium, and
stuck to old logs and standing dead timber were several beautiful
orchids of different varieties. Violets, pansies, fuchsias and
nasturtiums bordered the walks in true European fashion, and one
wondered who had taken all this trouble in so outlandish a spot.

At the back of the humpy rose the Range sheer fifteen hundred feet with
huge granite boulders, twice the size of the humpy itself, standing
straight out from the side of the Range, giving one the idea that they
were merely stuck there in some mysterious manner, and were ready at a
moment's notice to come tumbling down, overwhelming every one and
everything in their descent.

On the other three sides was scrub. Dense tropical scrub for miles,
giving out a muggy disagreeable heat, and that peculiar overpowering
smell common, I think, to all tropical growth. No one could have chosen
a better spot than this if his desire were to escape entirely from the
busy world and live a quiet sequestered life amongst the countless
beautiful gifts that Dame Nature seems so lavish of in the hundred nooks
and corners of the mountainous portion of Australia. In this humpy,
then, hidden from the world in general, and known only to a few miners
and prospectors, lived Dick Benson, his wife, and their daughter
Billjim. That is what she was called, anyway, by all the diggers on the
Newanga. It wasn't her name, of course. She was registered at Clagton
Court House as Katherine Veronica Benson, but no one in all the district
thought of calling her Kitty now, and as for Veronica--well, it was too
much to ask of any one, let alone a rough bushman.

The name Billjim she practically chose herself.

One evening a digger named Jack L'Estrange, a great friend of the
Bensons, was reading an article from the _Bulletin_ to her father, and
Kitty, as she was then called, was whiling away the time by pulling his
moustache, an occupation which interfered somewhat with the reading, but
which was allowed to pass without serious rebuke.

In this article the paper spoke of backblocks bushmen under the generic
soubriquet of Billjim. And a very good name too, for in any up-country
town one has but to sing out "Bill" or "Jim" to have an answer from
three-fourths of the male population.

The name tickled Kitty immensely, and she chuckled, "Billjim! Billjim!
Oh, I'd like to be called that."

"Would you though?" asked her father, smiling.

"Yes," answered Kitty; "it's a fine name, Billjim."

"Well, we will call you Billjim in future," said Dick; and from that day
the name stuck to her. And it suited her.

She was the wildest of wild bush girls. At twelve years old she could
ride and shoot as well as most of us, and would pan out a prospect with
any man on the Newanga.

She had never been to school, there being none nearer than Clagton,
which was some fifteen miles away, but she had been taught the simple
arts of reading and writing by her mother, and Jack L'Estrange had
ministered to her wants in the matter of arithmetic.

With all her wildness she was a good, kindly girl, materially helping
her mother in the household matters, and all that flower garden was her
special charge and delight.

Wednesday and Thursday of every week were holidays, and those two days
were spent by Billjim in roaming the country far and wide. Sometimes on
horseback, when a horse could be borrowed, but mostly on her own
well-formed feet.

She would wander off with a shovel and a dish into the scrub, and,
following up some gully all day, would return at night tired out and
happy, and generally with two or three grains of gold to show for her
day's work. Sometimes she would come back laden with some new orchid,
and this she would carefully fix in the garden in a position as similar
as possible to that in which she had found it, and usually it would
blossom there as if it were thankful at being so well cared for.

When Billjim wasn't engaged making her pocket-money, as she termed it,
her days would be spent with Jack L'Estrange.

Jack was a fine, strapping young fellow of twenty-three, and was doing
as well on the Newanga as any. Since the day he had snatched Billjim
(then a wee mite) from the jaws of an alligator, as Queensland folk will
insist upon calling their crocodile, he had been _l'ami de la maison_ at
the Bensons', and Billjim thought there was no one in the world like
him. He in return would do any mortal thing which that rather capricious
young lady desired.

One evening, when they were all sitting chatting round the fire in the
galley, Benson said:

"Don't you think, Jack, that Billjim ought to go to some decent school?
The missus and me of course ain't no scholars, but now that we can
afford it we'd like Billjim to learn proper, you know."

Jack looked at Billjim, who had nestled up closer to him during this
speech, and was on the point of answering in the negative, when less
selfish thoughts entered his head, and he replied:

"Well, Dick, much against my inclination, I must say that I think she
ought to go. You see," he continued, turning to Billjim and taking her
hand, "it's this way. We should all miss you, lass, very much, but it's
for your own good. You must know more than we here can teach you if you
wish to be any good to your father and mother."

Billjim nodded and looked at him, and Jack had to turn his eyes away and
speak to Mrs. Benson for fear of going back on his words.

"You see, Mrs. Benson," said Jack, "it wouldn't be for long, for Billjim
would learn very quickly with good teachers, and be of great use to you
when Dick makes that pile."

Mrs. Benson smiled in spite of herself when Jack mentioned "that pile."
Dick had been going to strike it rich up there on the Newanga for over
seven years, and the fortune hadn't come yet.

"I suppose you're right," she said, "and I'm sure Billjim will be a good
girl and study quick to get back. Won't you, lass?"

"Yes'm," answered Billjim, with a reservoir of tears in her voice, but
none in her eyes. She wouldn't have cried with Jack there for the world!

So after a lot of talking it was settled, and Billjim departed for
school, and the humpy knew her no more for four long years.

Ah! what a dreary, dreary time that was to Mrs. Benson and Dick. Jack
kept her flower garden going for all those years, and Snowy, her dog,
lived down at his camp. These had been Billjim's last commands.

Dick worked away manfully looking for that pile, and succeeded passing
well, as the account at Clagton Bank could show, but there was no
alteration made at the "Nest," as the humpy was designated.

Jack passed most of his evenings up there, and on mail days was in great
request to read Billjim's epistles out loud.

No matter who was there, those letters were read out, and some of us who
knew Billjim well passed encouraging remarks about her improvement, etc.

We all missed her, for she had been used to paying periodical flying
visits, and her face had always seemed to us like a bright gleam of
sunshine breaking through that steaming, muggy, damp scrub.

One mail day, four years very near to the day after Billjim's departure,
the usual letter was read out, and part of it ran so:

"Oh, mum dear, do let me come back now. I am sure I have learned enough,
and oh! how I long for a sight of you and dad, and dear old Jack and
Frenchy, and Jim Travers, and all of you in fact. Let me come, oh! do
let me come back."

Upon my word, I believe there was a break in Jack's voice as he read.
Mrs. Benson was crying peacefully, and Dick and French were blowing
their noses in an offensive and boisterous manner.

A motion was put and carried forthwith that Billjim should return at
once. Newanga couldn't go on another month like this. Quite absurd to
think of it.

The letter was dispatched telling Billjim of the joyful news, and
settling accounts with the good sisters who had sheltered and cared for
her so long.

Great were the preparations for Dick's journey to the coast to meet her
when the time came. So great was the excitement that a newcomer thought
some great reef had been struck, and followed several of us about for
days trying to discover its location and get his pegs in!

Every one wanted to lend something for Billjim's comfort on the journey
out. No lady's saddle was there in all the camp, and great was Dick's
trouble thereat, until Frenchy rigged his saddle up with a bit of wood
wrapped round with a piece of blanket, which, firmly fixed to the front
dees, did duty for a horn.

"It's a great idea, Frenchy," said Dick; "but, lord, I'd ha' sent her
the money for one if I'd only ha' thought of it, but, bless you, I was
thinking of her as a little girl yet."

'Twas a great day entirely, as Micky the Rat put it, when Billjim came
home.

Every digger for miles round left work and made a bee-line from his
claim to the road, and patiently waited there to get a hand-shake and a
smile from their friend Billjim, and they all got both, and went back
very grateful and very refreshed.

Billjim had turned into a pretty woman in those four years, and I think
every one was somewhat staggered by it.

Jack L'Estrange's first meeting with his one-time playmate was at the
Nest, and it so threw Jack off his balance that he was practically
maudlin for a week after the event.

When he entered the door he stood at first spell-bound at the change in
his favourite, then he said:

"Why, Bill--er Kate, I.... 'Pon my word, I don't know what to say. Oh,
Christopher! you know this is comical; I came up here intending to kiss
my little friend Billjim, and I find you grown into a beautiful woman."

"Kiss me, Jack?" broke in Billjim; "kiss me? Why, I'm going to hug you!"
And she did, and Jack blushed to the roots of his curly golden hair, and
was confused all the evening over it.

The four years' schooling had not changed Billjim one iota as far as
character went. She was the identical Billjim grown big and grown
pretty, that was all.

But something was to happen which was to turn the wild tom-boy into a
serious woman, and it happened shortly after her return home.

It was mail night up at the Nest, and Jack L'Estrange was absent from
the crowd that invariably spent an hour or two getting their mail and
discussing items of grave interest. Being mail night, Jack's absence was
naturally noticed, and every one made some remark about it.

However, old Dick said: "Oh, Jack's struck some good thing, I suppose,
and got back to camp too late to come up. He'll come in the morning
likely."

This seemed to satisfy every one save Billjim. She turned to Frenchy,
and said:

"Do you know whereabouts Jack was working lately?"

"Yes," answered Frenchy. "He was working at the two mile, day before
yesterday, so I suppose he's there yet."

"Yes," said Billjim, "I suppose he will be." But Billjim wasn't
satisfied. When every one was asleep she was out, and knowing the scrub
thoroughly, was over to Jack's camp in a quarter of an hour. Not finding
Jack there, she made for the two mile with all speed, for something told
her she knew not what. An undefinable feeling that something was wrong
came across her. She saw Jack lying crushed and bleeding and no one
there to help him! Do what she would, dry, choking sobs burst from her
tight-closed lips as she scrambled along over boulders and through the
thick scrub. Brambles, wait-a-bit vines, and berry bushes scratched and
stung her, and switched across her face, leaving bleeding and livid
marks on her tender skin. But she pushed on and on in the fitful
moonlight through the dense undergrowth, making a straight line for the
two mile.

Arrived there, she stopped for breath for a while, and then sent forth a
long "Coo-ie." No answer. "I was right," thought Billjim, "he is hurt.
My God! he may be dead out here, while we were there chatting and
laughing as usual. Oh, Jack, Jack!"

Up the gully she sped, from one abandoned working to another, over
rocks and stones, into water-holes, with no thought for herself. At
last, there, huddled up against the bank, with a huge boulder pinning
one leg to the ground, lay poor Jack L'Estrange.

Billjim's first impression was that he was dead, he looked so limp and
white out in the open there with the moon shining on his face, but when
her accustomed courage returned she stooped over him and found him
alive, but unconscious.

She bathed his temples with water, murmuring:

"Jack dear, wake up. Oh, my own lad, wake up and tell me what to do."

Jack opened his eyes at last, as if her soft crooning had reached his
numbed senses.

"Halloa, Billjim," he said faintly. "Is that you or a dream?"

"It's me, Jack," replied Billjim, flinging school talk to the four
winds. "It's me. What can I do? How can I help? Are you suffering much?"

"Well," said Jack, "you can't shift that boulder, that's certain, for
I've tried until I went off. It's not paining now much, seems numbed. Do
you think you could fetch the boys? Get Frenchy especially; he knows
something about bandaging and that. It's a case with the leg, I think."

"All right, dear," said Billjim; and the "dear" slipped out unawares,
but she went on hurriedly to cover the slip: "Yes, I'll get Frenchy and
Travers, Tate and Micky the Rat; they all live close together. You won't
faint again, Jack, will you? See, I'll leave this pannikin here with
water. Keep up your pecker, we shan't be long," and she was gone to hide
the tears in her eyes, and the choke in her voice. "It's a case with the
leg" was too much for her.

She was at Frenchy's camp in a very short time. Frenchy was at his fire,
dreaming. When he saw who his visitor was he was startled, to say the
least of it.

"What, Billjim the Beautiful? At this hour of night? Why, what in the
name of...?" were his incoherent ejaculations.

And Billjim for the first time in that eventful night really gave way.
She sat down and sobbed out:

"Oh, Frenchy.... Come.... Poor Jack.... Two mile ... crushed and
bleeding to death, Frenchy.... I saw the blood oozing out.... Oh, dear
me!... Get the boys ... come...."

Frenchy's only answer was a long, melodious howl, which was promptly
re-echoed from right and left and far away back in the scrub, and from
all sides forms hurried up clad in all sorts of strange night costumes.

Some shrank back into the shadows again on seeing a woman sitting at the
fire sobbing, but one and all as they hurried up asked:

"What's up? Niggers?"

They were told, and each hurried back for clothes. Frenchy got his
bandages together, and fetched his bunk out of his tent.

"We'll take this," he said; "it's as far from Jack's camp to the two
mile as it is from here. Now then, Billjim, off we go."

Her followers had to keep moving to keep near her, loaded as they were,
but at last they arrived at the scene of Jack's disaster.

Jack was conscious when they arrived, and Frenchy whipped out a brandy
flask and put it in Billjim's hand, saying:

"Give him a dose every now and again while we mend matters. Sit down
there facing him. That's right. Now, chaps!"

With a will the great piece of granite was moved from off the crushed
and bleeding limb. With deft fingers Frenchy had the trouser leg ripped
up above the knee, and then appeared a horribly crushed, shattered
thigh. Frenchy shook his head dolefully. "Any one got a small penknife?
Ivory or smooth-handled one for preference," he demanded.

"You're not going to cut him?" queried Billjim, without turning her
head.

"No, no," said Frenchy; "I want it to put against the vein and stop this
bleeding. That'll do nicely," as Travers handed him a knife. "Sit
tight, Jack, I must hurt you now."

"Go ahead," said Jack uneasily; "but don't be longer than you can help,"
and he caught hold of Billjim's hand and remained like that, quiet and
sensible, while Frenchy put a ligature round the injured limb and
bandaged it up as well as was possible.

"Now, mates," he said, as he finished, "this is a case for Clagton and
the doctor at once. No good one going in and fetching the doctor out,
it's waste of time, and then he mightn't be able to do anything. So we
must pack him on that stretcher and carry him in. Everybody willing?"

Aye, of course they were, though they knew they had fifteen miles to
carry a heavy man over gullies and rocks and through scrub and forest.

So Jack was carefully placed on the stretcher.

"Now you had better get home, Billjim, and tell them what has happened,"
said Frenchy.

"No, no, I won't," said Billjim; "I'm going with you;" and go she did,
of course, holding Jack's hand all the way, and administering small
doses of brandy whenever she was ordered. "La Vivandière," as Frenchy
remarked, sotto voce, "but with a heart! Grand Dieu, with what a heart!"

It was a great sight to see that gallant little band carrying twelve
stone of helpless humanity in the moonlight.

Through scrub, over rocks and gullies, and through weird white gum
forest, and no sound but the laboured breathing of the bearers. There
were twelve of them, and they carried four and four about, those fifteen
miles.

Never a groan out of the poor fellow up aloft there, though he must have
suffered agonies when any one stumbled, which was bound to occur pretty
often in that dim light.

Slowly but surely they covered the distance, and just as day began to
dawn they reached the doctor's house at Clagton.

In a very little time Jack was lying on a couch in the surgery.

After some questions the doctor said:

"Too weak. Can't do anything just now."

"It's a case, I suppose?" asked Frenchy.

"Yes," said the doctor; "amputation, of course, and I have no one here
to help me. Stay, though! Who bandaged him?"

"I did," answered Frenchy; "I learnt that in hospitals, you know."

"Oh, well," said the doctor, quite relieved, "you'll do to help me. Go
and get a little sleep, and come this afternoon."

"Right you are," said Frenchy. "Come on, Billjim. Can't do any good here
just now. I'll take you to Mother Slater's."

Billjim gave one look at Jack, who nodded and smiled, and then went away
with Frenchy.

For three weeks after the operation Jack L'Estrange lay hovering on the
brink of the great chasm. Then he began to mend and get well rapidly.

Billjim was in constant attendance from the day she was allowed to see
him, and the doctor said, in fact, that but for her care and attention
there would probably have been no more Jack.

Great was the rejoicing at the Nest when Jack reappeared, and the
rejoicing turned to enthusiasm when it was discovered that there was a
mutual understanding come to between Billjim and the crippled miner.

Micky the Rat prophesied great things, but said:

"Faix, 'tis a distressful thing entirely to see a fine gurrl like that
wid a husband an' he wed on wan leg. 'Twas mesilf Billjim should ha'
tuk, no less."

But we all knew Micky the Rat, you see.

The wedding-day will never be forgotten by those who were on the Newanga
at the time.

The event came off at Clagton, and everybody was there. No invitations
were issued. None were needed. The town came, and the miners from far
and near, _en masse_.

Those who couldn't get a seat squatted in true bush fashion with their
wide-brimmed hats in their hands, and listened attentively to the
service; a lot of them never having entered a church door in their lives
before.

At the feast, before the newly married couple took their departure,
everybody was made welcome. It was a great time.

Old Dick got up to make a speech, and failed ignominiously. He looked at
Billjim for inspiration. She was just the identical person he shouldn't
have looked at, for thoughts of the Nest without Billjim again rose
before him, and those thoughts settled him, so he sat down again without
uttering a word.

Jack said something, almost inaudible, about seeking a fortune and
finding one, which was prettily put, and Frenchy as best man was heard
to mutter something about "Beautiful ... loss to camp ... happiness ...
wooden leg," and the speech making was over.

At the send off much rice flew about, and as the buggy drove off, an old
dilapidated iron-shod miner's boot was found dangling on the rear axle
of that conveyance.

That was Micky the Rat's parting shot at Jack for carrying Billjim away.

Clagton was a veritable London for that night only. You couldn't throw a
stone without hitting some one, and as a rule an artillery battery could
have practised for hours in the main street without hitting any one or
anything, barring perhaps a stray dog.

Things calmed down at last, however, and when the newly married returned
and, adding to the Nest, lived there with the old couple, every one was
satisfied. "Billjim" remained "Billjim" to all of us, and when a
stranger expresses surprise at that, Billjim simply says, "Ah! but you
see we are all mates here, aren't we, Jack?"



IN THE WORLD OF FAERY.



THE LEGENDS OF LANGAFFER.

BY MADAME ARMAND CAUMONT.


I.

THE TINY FOLK OF LANGAFFER.


Langaffer was but a village in those days, with a brook running through
it, a bridge, a market-place, a score of houses, and a church.

It may have become a city since, and may have changed its name. We
cannot tell. All we know is, that the curious things we are about to
relate took place a long time ago, before there was any mention of
railroads or gaslamps, or any of the modern inventions people have
nowadays.

There was one cottage quite in the middle of the village, much smaller,
cleaner, and neater than its neighbours. The little couple who lived in
it were known over the country, far and wide, as "Wattie and Mattie, the
tiny folk of Langaffer."

These two had gone and got married, if you please, when they were quite
young, without asking anybody's advice or permission. Whereupon their
four parents and their eight grandparents sternly disowned them; and the
Fairy of the land, highly displeased, declared the two should remain
tiny, as a punishment for their folly.

Yet they loved one another very tenderly, Wattie and Mattie; and, as the
years rolled by, and never a harsh word was heard between them, and
peace and unity reigned in their diminutive household--which could not
always have been said of their parents' and grandparents'
firesides--why, then the neighbours began to remark that they were a
good little couple; and the Fairy of the land declared that if they
could but distinguish themselves in some way, or perform some great
action, they might be allowed to grow up after all.

"But how could we ever do a great deed?" said Wattie to Mattie,
laughing. "Look at the size of us! I defy any man in the village, with
an arm only the length of mine, to do more than I! Of course I can't
measure myself with the neighbours. To handle Farmer Fairweather's
pitchfork would break my back, and to hook a great perch, like Miller
Mealy, in the mill-race, might be the capsizing of me. Still, what does
that matter? I can catch little sprats for my little wife's dinner; I
can dig in our patch of garden, and mend our tiny roof, so that we live
as cosily and as merrily as the best of them."

"To be sure, Wattie dear!" said Mattie. "And what would become of poor
me supposing thou wert any bigger? As it is, I can bake the little
loaves thou lovest to eat, and I can spin and knit enough for us both.
But, oh, dear! wert thou the size of Farmer Fairweather or Miller Mealy,
my heart would break."

In truth the little couple had made many attempts at pushing their
fortune in the village; and had failed, because it was no easy problem
to find a trade to suit poor Wattie. A friendly cobbler had taught him
how to make boots and shoes, new soling and mending; and he once had the
courage to suspend over his door the sign of a shoemaker's shop. Then
the good wives of Langaffer did really give him orders for tiny slippers
for their little ones to toddle about in. But, alas! ere the work was
completed and sent home, the little feet had got time to trot about a
good deal, and had far outgrown the brand-new shoes; and poor Wattie
acquired the character of a tardy tradesman. "So shoemaking won't do,"
he had said to Mattie. "If only the other folk would remain as little as
we are!"

In spite of this, Wattie and Mattie not only continued to be liked by
their neighbours, but in time grew to be highly respected by all who
knew them. Wattie could talk a great deal, and could give a reason for
everything; and his dwarf figure might be seen of an evening sitting on
the edge of the bridge wall, surrounded by a group of village worthies,
whilst his shrill little voice rose high above theirs, discussing the
affairs of Langaffer. And little Mattie was the very echo of little
Wattie. What _he_ said _she_ repeated on his authority in many a
half-hour's gossip with the good wives by the village well.

Now it happened that one day the homely community of Langaffer was
startled by sudden and alarming tidings. A traveller, hastening on foot
through the village, asked the first person he met, "What news of the
war?"

"What war?" returned the simple peasant in some surprise.

"Why, have you really heard nothing of the great armies marching about
all over the country, attacking, besieging and fighting in pitched
battles--the king and all his knights and soldiers against the enemies
of the country--ah, and it is not over yet! But I wonder to find all so
tranquil here in the midst of such troublous times!" And then the
stranger passed on; and his words fell on the peaceful hamlet like a
stone thrown into the bosom of a tranquil lake.

At once there was a general commotion and excitement among the village
folk. "Could the news be true? How dreadful if the enemy were indeed to
come and burn down their homesteads, and ravage their crops, and kill
them every one with their swords!"

That night the gossip lasted a long time on Langaffer Bridge. Wattie's
friends, the miller and the grocer, the tailor and the shoemaker, and
big Farmer Fairweather spoke highly of the king and his faithful
knights, and clenched their fists, and raised their voices to an angry
pitch at the mention of the enemy's name. And little Wattie behaved like
the rest of them, strutted about, and doubled up his tiny hands, and
proclaimed what he should do if Langaffer were attacked--and "if he were
only a little bigger!" Whereupon the neighbours laughed and held their
sides, and cried aloud, "Well done, Wattie!"

But the following evening brought more serious tidings. Shortly before
nightfall a rider, mounted on a sweltering steed, arrived at the village
inn, all out of breath, to announce that the army was advancing, and
that the General of the Forces called upon every householder in
Langaffer to furnish food and lodging for the soldiers.

"What! _Soldiers_ quartered on us!" cried the good people of Langaffer.
"Who ever heard the like?"

"They shall not come to _my_ house!" exclaimed Farmer Fairweather
resolutely.

"Oh, neighbour Fairweather!" shouted half a dozen voices, "and thou hast
such barns and lofts, and such very fine stables, and cowsheds, thou art
the very one who canst easily harbour the soldiers."

"As for _me_," cried the miller, "I have barely room for my meal-sacks!"

"Oh, plenty of room!" screamed the others, "and flour to make bread for
the troopers, and bran for the horses!"

"But it falls very hard on poor people like us!" cried the weaver, the
tinker, the cobbler and tailor; upon which little Wattie raised his
voice and began, "Shame on ye, good neighbours! Do ye grudge hospitality
to the warriors who go forth to shed their blood in our defence? Every
man, who has strength of body and limb, ought to feel it an honour to
afford food and shelter to the army of the land!"

"_Thy_ advice is cheap, Wattie!" cried several voices sarcastically,
"thou and thy tiny wife escape all this trouble finely. For the general
would as soon dream of quartering a soldier on dwarfs as on the sparrows
that live on the housetops!"

"And what if we are small," retorted Wattie, waxing scarlet, "we have
never shirked from our duty yet, and never intend to do so."

This boast of the little man's had the effect of silencing some of the
most dissatisfied; and then the people of Langaffer dispersed for the
night, every head being full of the morrow's preparations.

"Eh, Wattie dear," said Mattie to her husband, when the two were
retiring to sleep in their cosy little house, "we may bless ourselves
this night that we are not reckoned amongst the big people, and that our
cottage is so small no full-grown stranger would try to enter it."

"But we must do something, Mattie dear," said Wattie. "You can watch the
women washing and cooking all day to-morrow, whilst I encourage the men
in the market-place and on the bridge. These are great times, Mattie!"

"Indeed they are, Wattie dear." And so saying, the little couple fell
fast asleep.

The following morning Langaffer village presented a lively picture of
bustle and excitement. Soldiers in gaudy uniforms, and with gay-coloured
banners waving in the breeze, marched in to the sound of trumpet and
drum. How their spears and helmets glittered in the sunshine, and what a
neighing and prancing their steeds made in the little market-square! The
men and women turned out to receive them, the children clapped their
hands with delight, and the village geese cackled loudly to add to the
stir.

Wattie was there looking on, with his hands in his pockets. But nobody
heeded him now. They were all too busy, running here, running there,
hastening to and fro, carrying long-swords and shields, holding horses'
heads, stamping, tramping, scolding and jesting. Little Wattie was more
than once told to stand aside, and more than once got pushed about and
mixed up with the throng of idle children, whose juvenile curiosity kept
them spell-bound, stationed near the village inn.

Wattie began to feel lonely in the midst of the commotion. A humiliating
sense of his own weakness and uselessness crept over him; and the poor
little dwarf turned away from it all, and wandered out of the village,
far away through the meadows, and into a lonely wood.

On and on he went, unconscious of the distance, till night closed in,
when, heartsick and weary, he flung his little body down at the foot of
a majestic oak, and covered his face with his hands.

He had not lain long when he was startled by a sound close at hand; a
sigh, much deeper than his own, and a half-suppressed moan--what could
it be?

In an instant Wattie was on his feet, peering to right and left, trying
to discover whence those signs of distress proceeded.

The moon had just risen, and by her pale light he fancied he saw
something glitter among the dried leaves of the forest. Cautiously
little Wattie crept closer; and there, to his astonishment, lay extended
the form of a knight in armour. He rested on his elbow, and his head was
supported by his arm, and his face, which was uncovered, wore an
expression of sadness and anxiety. He gazed with an air of calm dignity
rather than surprise on the dwarf, when the latter, after walking once
or twice round him, cried out, "Noble knight, noble knight, pray what is
your grief, and can I do aught to relieve it? Say, wherefore these
groans and sighs?"

"Foes and traitors, sorrow and shame!" returned the warrior. "But tell
me, young man, canst thou show me the road to Langaffer?"

"That I can, noble sir," answered Wattie, impressed by the stranger's
tone. "Do I not dwell in Langaffer myself!"

"Then perhaps, young man, thou knowest the Castle of Ravenspur?"

"The ruined tower of Count Colin of Ravenspur!" cried Wattie, "why, that
is close to Langaffer. Our village folk call it 'the fortress' still,
although wild and dismantled since the time it was forsaken by----"

"Name not Count Colin to me!" cried the knight, impatiently. "The base
traitor that left his own land to join hands with the enemy! His sable
plume shall ne'er again wave in his own castle-yard!... But come,
hasten, young man, and guide me straight to Ravenspur. Our men, you say,
are encamped at Langaffer?"

"That they are," returned Wattie; "well-nigh every house is filled with
them. They arrived in high spirits this morning; and doubtless, by this
time, are sleeping as heavily as they were carousing an hour ago."

"All the better," cried the knight, "for it will be a different sort of
sleep some of them may have ere the morrow's setting sun glints through
the stems of these forest trees! And now, let us hasten to Ravenspur."

So saying, he drew himself up to his full height, lifted his sword from
the ground and hung it on his side, and strode away with Wattie, looking
all the while like a great giant in company of a puny dwarf.

As they emerged from the forest Wattie pointed with his finger across
the plain to the village of Langaffer, and then to a hill overhanging
it, crowned by a fortress which showed in the distance its chiselled
outlines against the evening sky. An hour's marching across the country
brought them close to the dismantled castle. The moonbeams depicted
every grey stone overgrown with moss and ivy, and the rank weeds choking
the apertures which once had been windows.

"An abode for the bat and the owl," remarked Wattie, "but, brave sir,
you cannot pass the night here. Pray--pray come to my tiny house in the
village, and rest there till the morning dawns."

"I accept thy hospitality, young man," said the warrior, "but first thou
canst render me a service. Thou art little and light. Canst clamber up
to yonder stone where the raven sits, and tell me what thou beholdest
far away to the west?" Whereupon Wattie, who was agile enough, and
anxious to help the stranger, began to climb up, stone by stone, the
outer wall of the ruined fortress. A larger man might have felt giddy
and insecure; but he, with his tiny figure, sprang from ledge to ledge
so swiftly, holding firmly by the tufts of grass and the trailing ivy,
that ere he had time to think of danger, he had reached the spot where,
a moment before, a grim-looking raven had been keeping solemn custody.
Here the stone moved, and Wattie fancied he heard something rattle as he
set his foot upon it. The raven had now perched herself on a yet higher
eminence, on a piece of the old coping-stone of the castle parapet; and
she flapped her great ugly wings, and cawed and croaked, as if
displeased at this intrusion on her solitude. Wattie followed the
ill-omened bird, and drove her away from her vantage-ground, where he
himself now found a better footing from which to make his observations.

"To the west," he cried, "lights like camp-fires, all in a row far
against the horizon!"

This was all he had to describe; and it seemed enough to satisfy the
armed stranger.

"And now, young man," he said, when Wattie had, after a perilous
descent, gained the castle-yard once more, "I shall be thy guest for the
night."

A thrill of pride and pleasure stole through Wattie's breast as he
thought of the honour of receiving the tall warrior. But the next
instant his heart was filled with anxiety as he remembered the tiny
dimensions of his home, Mattie and himself.

All these hours his little wife had passed in sore perplexity because of
his absence. At the accustomed time for supper she had spread the
snow-white napkin on the stool that served them for a table. She had
piled up a saucerful of beef and lentils for Wattie, and filled him an
egg-cupful of home-brewed ale to the brim. And yet he never came!

What could ever have happened? A tiny little person like Wattie might
have been trampled to death in the crowd of great soldiers that now
filled Langaffer! A horse's kick at the village inn might have killed
him! He might have been pushed into the stream and been drowned. Oh, the
horrible fancies that vaguely hovered round poor Mattie's fireside! No
wonder the little woman sat there with her face pale as ashes, her teeth
chattering, and her tiny hands clasped tightly together.

And thus Wattie found her when he returned at last, bringing the
stranger knight along with him. But Mattie was so overjoyed to see her
Wattie safe home, and held her arms so tightly round his neck, that he
could scarcely get his story told.

Little indeed did the good people of Langaffer, that night, asleep in
their beds, dream of the great doings under the modest roof of Wattie
and Mattie; all the furniture they possessed drawn out and joined
together, and covered with the whole household stock of mattresses,
quilts and blankets, to form a couch for their guest's repose.

The knight had eaten all Mattie's store of newly-baked bread, and now
only begged for a few hours' rest, and a little more water to quench his
thirst when he should waken. As he took off his helmet with its great
white plume, and handed it to Wattie, the latter staggered under its
weight, and Mattie cried out, "Oh, Wattie, how beautiful, how noble it
must be to ride o'er hill and dale in such a gallant armour!"

Then thrice to the Fairy Well in the meadow beyond the bridge of
Langaffer must Wattie and Mattie run to fetch water, the best in the
land, clear as crystal, and cold as ice; for it required fully three
times what they could carry to fill the great stone pitcher for the
sleeping warrior.

And the third time the two came to the spring, behold, the water bubbled
and flashed with the colours of the rainbow, and by the light of the
moon they caught a glimpse of something bright reflected on its surface.
They glanced round, and there a lovely, radiant being sat by, with a
tiny phial in her hand.

"Hold here, little people!" she cried, "let me drop some cordial into
the pitcher."

"Nay, nay!" screamed Mattie.

"Nay!" cried Wattie sternly, "the drink must be as pure as crystal."

"For your noble warrior," added the fairy rising; "but the beverage will
taste the sweeter with the drops that I put into it." And so saying, she
stretched forth her hand, and shook the contents of her tiny flask into
the pitcher; and her gay laugh rang merrily and scornfully through the
midnight air.

Wattie and Mattie, half-frightened, hastened homewards; and lo, when
crossing the bridge, an old hag overtook them, and, as she hurried past,
she uttered a spiteful laugh.

"There is something strange in the air to-night," said Mattie. "See that
weird old woman, and hark, Wattie, how Oscar, the miller's dog, barks at
the moon."

"Mattie," cried Wattie resolutely, "let us empty our pitcher into the
mill-race, and go back once again, and draw afresh! 'Tis safer."

So the tiny couple, weary and worn out as they were, trudged all the way
to the Fairy Well once more to "make sure" that the stranger knight
should come to no harm through their fault.

And this time the water flowed clear and cold, but with no varied tints
flashing through it. Only Wattie seemed to hear the stream rushing over
the pebbles like a soft, lisping voice. "Hush! listen! what does it
say?"

"To me," cried Mattie, "it whispers, 'Silver sword of Ravenspur.' But
that has no sense, Wattie dear. Come, let us go!"

"And to me the same!" cried Wattie, "'Silver sword of Ravenspur.' That
means something."

It was now early dawn as the two passed over the bridge and by the
miller's house, and they could see the fish floating _dead_ on the
surface of the mill-race, and poor Oscar the dog lying stretched on the
bank, with his tongue hanging out stiff and cold. And silently wondering
at all these strange things the little couple finished their task.

When the hour of noon arrived, the din of battle raged wild and fierce
round the village of Langaffer. The enemies of the land had arrived from
the west with false Colin at their head, and were met by the soldiers in
the plain, below the Castle of Ravenspur. With a loud war-cry on either
side foe rushed upon foe, and the fight began. Horsemen reeled over and
tumbled from their chargers, blood flowed freely on every side, shrieks
rent the air; but the strength of the combatants appeared equal. At last
Count Colin and his men pressed closer on the royal army, and forced
them back by degrees towards Langaffer.

It seemed now that the enemy's troops were gaining; and groans of
despair broke forth from the villagers and countryfolk who watched with
throbbing hearts the issue of the day.

At this moment the knight who had been little Wattie's guest dashed
forward, mounted on a snow-white charger, his armour of polished steel
glistening, and his fair plume waving in the sunshine.

"Back with the faint-hearted, on with the brave, and down with the
traitor!" he cried, and rode to the front rank himself.

His word and action wrought like an enchantment on the soldiers. They
rallied round the white-plumed stranger, who soon was face to face with
false Colin. And then the hostile bands, with their rebel commander,
were in turn driven back, and back, and back across the plain, and right
under the beetling towers of the fortress of Ravenspur.

Now Wattie was standing near the ruin, and saw the combat, and heard the
sounds of the warriors' voices reverberating from the bend of the hill.
How his heart bounded at the brave knight's battle-cry: "_Back with the
faint-hearted, on with the brave, and down with the traitor!_" And then
indeed the blood seemed to stand still in his veins when he heard false
Colin exclaim, "Oh, had I the silver sword of Ravenspur!"

Ah! Wattie remembered the raven, and the one loose stone in the castle
wall.

In another instant his tiny figure was grappling with the trailing ivy
on the outer fencework of the fortress.

And now he is seen by false Colin, and now the archers bend their bows,
and the arrows fly past him on every side. But Wattie has hurled down a
stone into the old courtyard, and, from behind it, has drawn forth a
silver-hilted brand.

"He is so small that our arrows all miss him!" cry the archers. "Nay,"
cries false Colin, "but he bears the enchanted weapon of Ravenspur! Take
it from him, my men, and fetch it to me."

"Count Colin shall have the _point_ of the sword," cries Wattie, "but
the silver handle is for the white-plumed knight!" and, running round
the ledge of the castle wall to the highest turret, he flings the
shining weapon down amongst the men of Langaffer.

And now there was a fresh charge made on the enemy, and the "unknown
warrior," armed with the newly-found talisman, stood face to face, hand
to hand, with the traitor.

... _Count Colin fell_, pierced through his armour of mail by the sword
that once had been his! The enemy fled, and the victory was won.

Then the stranger knight undid his visor, and took off his armour; and,
as his golden locks floated down his shoulders, the soldiers cried out,
"'Tis the King! 'tis the King!"

Wattie was called forth by the King of all the Land, and was bidden to
take the knightly helmet with its waving plume, and the shield, and the
silver sword, and to wear them. The men of Langaffer laughed aloud; but
Wattie did as he was commanded, and put on the knightly armour and
weapons.

And, behold at that moment he grew up into a great, strong warrior,
worthy to wield them! He was knighted then and there, "Sir Walter of
Ravenspur," and presented with the castle on the hill, which the king's
own army repaired ere they quitted Langaffer.

And then the King of all the Land sent a fair white robe, the size of
the Queen's ladies'; and when little Mattie put this on, she grew up
tall and stately to fit it. And, for many and many a year to come, she
was known as the "Good Dame Martha, the faithful lady of Sir Walter of
Ravenspur."


II.

THE KINGFISHER.


Martin was a gardener, and lived in a cottage in the midst of a hamlet
near Langaffer. All the country for miles round belonged to the old king
and queen; and their beautiful palace was hard by the village, in a
stately grove of elms and beech trees. Before the windows extended a
lovely garden, which was kept in order by Martin. Here he toiled every
day from morning-dawn till evening-dusk; and, in his own churlish
manner, he had come to love the flowers that cost him so much labour.

Like many another honest gardener, however, Martin found it very hard
that he could not have his own way in this world, even as concerned his
plants. For instance, the old monarch would come out every morning
after breakfast in his dressing-gown and slippers, and would admire the
bloom; but the very flowers he appeared to prize most were those that
cost Martin least trouble, and which the gardener in his heart despised
as cheap and vulgar.

Then the queen and the young ladies were wont to appear on the terrace
before dinner, with their little lapdogs, and call out for posies. They
must have the finest tea-roses and moss-roses that were only in bud.
Martin might grumble about to-morrow's "poor show," and point to some
rare full-blown beauties--but no, they just desired those which were not
yet opened.

Moreover, there grew here and there in the garden a plant or shrub,
which, Martin considered, would have been better removed; especially one
large lauristinus, which, he declared, "destroyed all symmetry," and
"hindered the flowers about it from enjoying the sunshine."

But the old king obstinately opposed changes of this sort, and strictly
forbade his gardener, on any pretext whatever, to remove the
lauristinus; as it was well known at the court that for generations a
spell was connected with this special shrub, and that therefore the less
it was meddled with the better.

All this interference tended to sour poor Martin's temper; but he
himself declared it was nothing compared to the aggravating behaviour of
Prince Primus, commonly called "Lord Lackaday," the king's eldest son.

This young nobleman, who was renowned far and wide for his indolent
habits, sauntered forth every day with a little boy carrying his
fishing-tackle, away through the lovely gardens, without once turning
his head to behold the brilliant parterres of "calceolarias,
pelargoniums, petunias and begonias," or to inhale the sweet-scented
heliotropes,--away through the park, and on to the river; for my Lord
Lackaday's sole pastime was angling.

"Humph! there he goes with his tackle," Martin would murmur, turning
from tying up his carnations to stare after him. "If old Martin, now,
were to spend _his_ days lying stretched _his_ full length on the
grass, with a rod dangling in the water before him, what would the world
come to? And where would _you_ be, my beauties?" he added, continuing
his occupation. "Hanging your lovely heads, my darlings!" And so he
grumbled and mumbled in an undertone to himself the whole livelong day,
until he went home to his supper at night; when his good wife, Ursula,
would endeavour to cheer him with her hearty welcome.

One evening Martin went with his clay pipe and his pewter ale-pot in his
hand to the village inn, to divert himself listening to the general
gossip which was carried on there between the host and the little group
of customers--weavers, tinkers, tailors, blacksmiths and labourers.
To-night they talked of the rich old king and queen, and Lord Lackaday,
and all the gay princesses, knights and ladies, who lived at the court,
and rode by in such splendid carriages, in such gorgeous attire.

"They eat out of golden dishes," said the tailor, "and the very nails in
their boots are silver!"

Martin knew as much about the court as any present; but he was in one of
his silent humours this evening.

"The princess gave a hundred crowns," cried the blacksmith, "for a
one-eyed lapdog, and My Lord Lackaday--Prince Primus, I mean--two
hundred for a certain white fly for his angling-rod----"

"And he never gave _me_ a hundred _groats_," blurted out Martin, who
could not stand any reference to the prince in question.

Thereupon the conversation took another turn; wages were discussed, the
weaver and the ploughman "compared notes"; and, as for Martin, it was
the unanimous opinion of the whole company that he, at least, ought to
strike--to insist on an increase of pay, or refuse to labour any more as
the king's own gardener.

Accordingly, the next morning Martin watched and waited till his royal
master came sidling along the smooth gravel walk in his embroidered
slippers, with his dressing-gown floating about him, sniffing with
good-humoured satisfaction the sweet fragrance of the standard roses,
that formed a phalanx on either side.

"I've got to tell your Majesty," began Martin abruptly, "that, unless
your Majesty raises my salary, I can't work any more in your Majesty's
garden."

Whereupon the old king started back all astonished; then laughed so
heartily that he brought on a fit of coughing.

"Your Majesty may be highly amused," grumbled Martin, "but I've said my
say, and I mean to stick to it!"

"But suppose your salary _ain't_ raised," began the king, trying his
best to look serious, "what then?"

"Then I'll go!" cried Martin; and, so saying, he flung his spade with
such force into the soil, that it stood upright.

"Well, my man, we'll give you a week to come to your senses," replied
the monarch, as, gathering up his skirts, he shuffled away down the
garden walk.

When Martin arrived home he found a great fuss going on in his little
cottage. All the good wives of the hamlet were gathered about the
door-porch; and, when he entered, lo, and behold, Dame Ursula held in
her arms the dearest little beauty of a baby-boy!

She wept for joy, as she saw how pleased her goodman was with his new
little son; but when he related to her all that had passed between
himself and his master, the old king, she clasped her hands together,
and began to weep and wail for sorrow, "because," as she said, "it was a
very bad time to be 'out of work,' and an evil omen for the child.
However, we'll have a real nice christening, Martin dear, and invite all
the _good fairies_. And next week you will go on with your gardening
again, you know, just as if nothing had happened."

So they had as grand a christening as people in their circumstances
could afford. The baby was called Lionel, "which," remarked some of the
neighbours, "was quite too fine a name for a common gardener's son."
Only one bright little, gay little fairy could be found who had time to
come to the christening. But she was a good-natured little thing, that
somehow always found exactly time to render a great many kindly
services. She willingly became Lionel's godmother, and promised to help
him through life as far as she could. "However," added the little lady,
with a sigh, "there's many a wicked fairy in the land may try to throw a
shadow across his path."

Now the day after the christening, and after the fairy's departure, the
troubles in little Lionel's home appeared to set in. Martin's leather
money-bag hung empty, and there was very little bread in the house for
his wife to eat; and this Saturday night no wages were coming due. Oh,
how he yearned for Monday morning, that he might go at his digging
again; and how anxiously he hoped that all might continue as before!

Slowly the week dragged out, the lagging hours weighing like chains on
the heart of the honest yeoman, who was not accustomed to idleness.

At last the Monday morning dawned, with rustling of leaves, and
twittering of birds; and Martin flung his clothes on, and hastened forth
to the royal garden.

Ah, me! the place looked neglected since only last week. The roses and
carnations hung their heads for want of a drop of water, and the leaves
of the fuchsias had mostly turned white. Weeds were staring out boldly
right and left; and the box-borders, that had ever been so trim and
neat, just appeared as if all the cats and dogs in the country-side had
gathered in on purpose to tear them to pieces.

Martin sped to the toolhouse for his watering-can, rake and hoe; but he
was somewhat dismayed indeed to find his implements broken in pieces,
and lying scattered about.

What could it mean?

He took a few strides towards the "lime walk," and gazed up at the
castle windows. The lattices were closed, and all was silent. But then,
of course, the old king and queen and My Lord Lackaday, and all the
princesses would be sleeping in their beds at this early hour of the
morning. Martin must wait until some human creature appeared to tell him
how the garden tools came to be broken and scattered.

In the meantime he trudged back to his own domain among the flowers, and
passed the dreary moments picking off the withered leaves. By-and-by a
light footstep was audible, and "Impudent Jack the jockey" arrived
whistling, with a heavy-jowled bull-dog at his heels, and stamped right
across the garden parterres, switching off the carnation-tops with his
cutty-whip.

"Holloa there, man! Mind what you're about!" cried Martin foaming with
wrath. "I wish His Majesty the old king saw you."

"The old king!" cried Jack, standing still, and gazing at Martin with
some amazement. "Why, Martin, the old king is _dead_ a week to-morrow,
and My Lord Lackaday is master now. And, as for the garden, my man, you
may set your mind at rest about that, for his new Royal Majesty has
given orders that the whole concern is to be turned into a lake for His
Majesty to fish in. Now!" And, so saying, _impudent_ Jack that he was,
continued his way, whistling louder, and switching off more carnation
tops than before.

Poor Martin was utterly dazed. Could it be true, or was it only a
cunning invention of Impudent Jack the jockey's?

Alas, the prolonged stillness that reigned in the park, and the forlorn
aspect of the castle windows, made his heart sink like lead within him.

Suddenly a postern door banged, and then a slow, dawdling step was heard
in the distance, and Martin perceived, approaching the "lime walk," My
Lord Lackaday, with his fishing-rod and tackle. There were two or three
young pages with him bearing baskets and nets; and he overheard one of
them say, "By-and-by your Majesty shall not have so far to go, once the
new pond here is finished."

This was more than Martin could endure. He dashed after the royal
fisherman, and screamed forth, "Can it be true that the flower gardens
are to be made a pond of? And how is your father's gardener then to get
his living?"

"Don't bother us," drawled out the new king; "we don't like flowers, nor
do we care whether you get a living or not!"

The blood rushed to Martin's head, and a singing sound filled his ears.
"A pond!" he cried. "A common fishpond! And how am I to earn my living
now? And what is to become of my wife and little Lionel?"

In his anger and despair, Martin sprang blindly forward, and kicked the
standard roses, and wrung the necks of the beautiful purple iris that
bloomed in the shade of some laurel bushes. His eye caught the
spellbound lauristinus, and, forgetting his late good master's commands,
he fell on it furiously with both hands, and tore, and wrenched it from
the earth.

Then suddenly, as the roots and fibres of the ill-omened plant with a
crackling noise were released from the soil, a wonderful being, which
had been buried underneath it--a wicked fairy with an evil eye--uncoiled
herself, and rose up straight and tall before him. She gave a malicious
smile, and simpered out flattering words to the half-bewildered
labourer.

"A thousand thanks, O noble knight, for relieving a spell-bound lady!
Pray let me know, is there aught that I can do to indicate my
gratitude?"

"Tell me how I can earn my daily bread?" stammered forth poor Martin.

"Daily bread!" cried the fairy, tossing her head contemptuously. "I can
tell thee, gallant sir, where to find gold, ay, more real yellow gold
than the king and all his court ever dreamed of! I have not been pent up
under that lauristinus all these years for nothing! I know a secret or
two."

Martin's eyes grew dilated, and his breath came and went, and he seized
the fairy by the wrist. "Answer me," he gasped out hoarsely, "where's
all that gold to be got? No palavering, or I'll bury you up again, and
plant that same lauristinus-bush on your head!"

The fairy rolled her evil eye, and gave a forced laugh. "At the back of
yonder mountain!" she cried, pointing with her thin, long hand to a hill
whose summit overlooked the park. "The way thou must take is through the
forest, till thou comest to the charcoal-burners' huts. Then follow a
crooked path leading to the left, round to the back of the hill. Thou
wilt find an opening in the earth. _The gold is there!_"

Martin scarcely waited for the last words. He loosened his grasp of the
fairy's wrist, and hastened full speed home to his wife and child.

"To a hole at the back of the mountain to look for gold!" Poor Dame
Ursula was sorely puzzled when her good-man arrived all excited, and
bade her make a bundle of what clothes she possessed, bring the baby
Lionel, and follow him to push their fortune at the back of the
mountain.

Now at the back of the mountain there was a deep mine where many people,
men, women and children, were searching after, and finding, gold. Only
they were obliged to descend deep, deep into the bowels of the earth,
where all was dark, save for the pale flickering of little lanterns,
which they were allowed to carry down.

Poor Dame Ursula wept bitterly at the notion of taking her darling
little Lionel into such a dismal pit. But there was no help for it; down
they must go, and live like the rest at the bottom of the gloomy mine,
whilst Martin, with a pickaxe, wrought for gold.

... The days passed, and the weeks passed, and the months, and the
_years_! And little Lionel was growing up amidst the dross. His long
hair was filthy, and matted together, and his skin was always stained
with the clay. His parents could scarcely know whether he was a lovely
boy or not. It was so dark down there, that his mother could not show
his blue eyes to the neighbours; yet she ever kept him by her side, for
fear of losing him, and also because she dreaded he might learn bad ways
from the gold-diggers--to curse and swear like them, and tell lies, and
steal other people's treasures.

And poor Martin dug from year-end to year-end, in the weary hope of some
day lighting on a great heap of wealth.

The time dragged slowly on, and Lionel's father was getting old and
weak, and his pickaxe fell with feeble, quavering strokes into the
earth; and Lionel's poor mother was growing blind with constantly
peering after her son through the half-obscurity of their underground
abode.

Then one morning she missed him altogether, having mistaken for him
another youth, whom she followed and then found with bitter anguish to
be not her boy. Thus Lionel was alone; and he, too, searched for his
mother, and, in so doing, became completely lost in the mine.

On and on he wandered, through endless subterraneous corridors, until at
last he spied a feeble glimmer before him. He never remembered to have
been here before, or to have seen this light. It was the entrance to the
mine.

There was a large basket, with two old men standing in it; and they told
Lionel that they were about to be taken up into the daylight.

"Oh, let me go with you!" cried Lionel. "Take me also to the daylight,
if only for a little while!"

They hoisted him into the basket; and immediately several unseen hands
from above drew all three right up, out of the dark gold mine. The pale,
thin ray grew stronger, broader, brighter as they ascended; and, at the
mouth of the mine, a perfect flood of golden sunshine overwhelmed
Lionel, who now held his hands across his brow, and felt painfully
dazzled.

"Young man," said a voice beside him, in mournful accents, "this upper
air is not for thee. Go down again to the shady retreat to which thou
art accustomed."

It was an aged female that spoke; she sat on the ground all clad in a
sooty garment.

"Not for me!" cried Lionel, bursting into tears; "and why should it not
be for me as well as for others?"

But just at this instant a fairy-like thing in white glided past the
youth, and whispered, "Heed her not, she is an evil genius! Hie thee,
young man, for shelter to yonder wood; from its leafy shade thou canst
behold the lovely earth with its verdant meadows, rich foliage and
brilliant flowers, and the soft, fleecy clouds embracing one another in
the azure sky overhead. Never fear, it is all for thee; thine eyes were
meant to gaze on it."

Lionel ran, and his young heart bounded within him for joy. He felt like
some blind person who sees again for the first time.

All through those dismal years down in the mine his mother had told him
how lovely the sunshine was, and the soft green grass; and how pure and
sweet the country air; but he had little dreamed it could be so
delightful, so beautiful as this!

The forest stood before him with its thousands of singing-birds, and its
carpet of many-coloured leaves and wild flowers. He would enter in
there.

Suddenly a croaking sound from a branch overhead arrested his attention,
and Lionel saw a great magpie staring down at him with dark, piercing
eyes.

"Halt!" cried the magpie, "nor enter this wood upon the peril of thy
life! Here are lions and tigers, bears and wolves, that will rend thee
to pieces."

He was startled and troubled for a moment; but at once his eye caught
sight of a pretty little mocking-bird, that laughed like a human being,
and shook its tiny head at him.

"_She_ doesn't believe you, anyhow," said Lionel to the magpie. "Nor
will I." And he walked away right into the forest.

As he went he stopped to examine the feathery-looking ferns, and the
wondrous velvety moss that grew on the roots of the trees. By-and-by a
rushing noise was heard, which became louder as Lionel proceeded. Could
that be the wild beasts of which the magpie had warned him? He stood
still with fast-beating heart and listened.

But the thought of the fairy-like voice and the gay little mocking-bird
encouraged him, and he pressed forward to see what that rushing noise
could mean.

The next instant found young Lionel by the side of a majestic waterfall,
standing with parted lips and rounded eyes, gazing before him in a
bewilderment of admiration. The cascades leaped laughingly from rock to
rock, and were lost in a limpid pool; then flowed away as a gentle,
rippling brook.

"How lovely!" gasped Lionel; and he bent forward, and looked into the
placid surface of the water in the rocky basin. But what did he behold
there? A vision that appalled him, and caused him to start back
abashed--_himself_, all grimy, with his matted hair and besmeared face!
For he had still the dress of the gold mine clinging to him; and he wept
for shame to feel himself so ugly in a spot where all was beauty.

Lionel stood and gazed on the silver stream with his wondering eyes; he
observed the little birdies come down quite fearlessly to quench their
thirst, and lave their tiny bodies in the cooling drops. Then he, too,
trembling at his own temerity, bathed himself in the crystal pool, and
came forth fair and shining, with his sunny locks waving on his
shoulders.

And now he continued his path through the forest with a happy heart;
for, what if his garments _were_ old and mud-stained, he felt that he
himself was fresh and comely!

Young Lionel gathered a nosegay as he went, harebells and violets,
oxlips and anemones; thinking all the while of the tales his mother oft
had told him about his father's skill in flowers. And heartily he
laughed at the frolics of the cunning little squirrels he spied for the
first time among the branches over his head.

At last he heard the echo of many voices and the sounds of merry-making,
and paused, hesitating and timid. Whence came all this laughter and
these cries of mirth? Surely not from the voice of one being, a
sallow-looking female attired in gaudy garments, like a gipsy, who now
came along his path.

"Turn, noble sir, and come with me," she cried, "and I will tell thee
thy fortune!"

But Lionel liked not her artful eyes, so he only said, "What sounds are
those?"

"They are the inhabitants of the country," answered the female vaguely;
"but beware of them, young stranger, they will surely take thy life."

"But I must see them," cried Lionel, "their voices please my ears! They
seem to be very happy."

"Such happiness is not for thee, young man!" shrieked the fortune-teller
angrily. "Be warned, and return from whence thou camest; else these
country clowns, when they behold thy miserable attire, will stone thee
to death, as a thief or a highwayman."

Lionel was shocked; yet the leer of the gipsy's eye made him think of
the lying magpie. So he left her, and hastened on, and, behold! there
stood before him the village maypole, bedecked with roses and ribbons,
and a living garland of youths and fair maidens dancing round it.

They had a lovely little fairy-body in their midst, and were entreating
her to be their "May-Queen," but laughingly she broke away from them
all, and declared she had her duties elsewhere--other young folks in
another hamlet to render happy. She nodded in a friendly, familiar way
to Lionel, who waited, shyly looking on, and motioned to him with her
little wand to join the party round the May-pole.

Far from repulsing him with sneers and jests, or "stoning him to death,"
the young people were very kind to Lionel; and, taking his hand,
welcomed him into their chain of dancers.

And when the frolics were at an end, and each one satiated with
happiness and excitement, they brought him to their festal board, and
gave him to eat and drink.

Then the good old wives of the hamlet gathered round, and began to
question the stranger youth, inquiring his name and whence he came. When
they heard that he was called "Lionel," and his father "Martin," they
held up their hands with astonishment, and nodded their heads to one
another, and cried out, "Dame Ursula's son! Dame Ursula's babe, that was
christened Lionel, the day Lord Lackaday became king! Well to be sure!
And where is Dame Ursula now? And Martin the gardener? And where have
they hidden themselves all these long years?" cried the old wives of the
hamlet in a breath.

But Lionel wept bitterly, as he thought of his mother and father far
down in the bottom of the gold-mine; and at the same time he was
ashamed to tell the village people where they were.

"I must go," he cried, "and bring them here! I must be off to search for
them, away ... away ... at the back of the mountain."

Then the old wives insisted on his waiting and resting the night there;
for he had need of sleep, he was so tired after walking and bathing,
dancing and weeping. And they gave him a nice, spruce, dimity-curtained
bed to sleep in; and presented him with a beautiful suit of new garments
for the morrow; "for," they said, "they had been at his christening, and
it was easy to see that the good Dame Ursula, wherever she had been all
these years, had brought her boy up well."

Lionel was fatigued, and shut his eyes at once for the night; but, ere
slumber overtook him, he heard distinctly the old wives' gossip by his
bedside.

"What a shame it was," said they, "of My Lord Lackaday to turn away poor
Martin as he did, and then transform the magnificent palace garden into
a fishpond!"

"But he was punished for it," whispered another. "They say an 'evil
spell' hangs over his only child, the lovely princess--the 'Lady Lilias'
as she is called. They say some creature from below the cursed fishpond
is to marry her--some dreadful beast no doubt. And the king is in
terror, and spends his time fishing there day and night."

The words awakened a strange curiosity in Lionel's heart; they rang in
his ears, and mingled with his dreams the whole night through; and it
seemed to him as if he and his parents were, in some way, bound up with
the fate of this poor young princess and her unhappy father, the king.

The following morning he donned the brave new garments they had given
him, and went forth to look at the park and the palace he had so often
heard of, before starting back to the gold-mine.

He discovered the royal entrance without assistance. But what was his
surprise to see, crouched on the roadside near it, a being which looked
this time just what she was, a wicked fairy with an evil eye! She
uncoiled herself, and stood up, straight and tall, before him. She gave
a malicious smile, and simpered forth these words: "Beware, young man,
of entering in there! That is the royal demesne, and no stranger
intrudes unpunished. None so poor and so mean as thou art dares be seen
within those precincts."

"My parents have taught me that _to tell lies is mean_! And thou hast
told me enough!" cried Lionel, indignantly.

At his words the creature vanished from before him; and on the spot
where she had stood he saw an ugly bush of deadly nightshade.

Then he boldly entered the royal park, and walked in thoughtful silence
till the stone work of the ancient castle walls met his view. At one
side was a venerable shady lime walk, and Lionel perceived a maiden
slowly gliding down it, attired in white, with golden hair, much longer
than his own, and eyes of an azure blue.

"Are you the spellbound Lady Lilias?" asked Lionel. "And where is the
lake that was once a lovely garden?"

"Oh, I dare not go there," sighed the maiden; "not even to cull the
sweet white water-lilies I wish so much, because my father fears I may
meet some creature from below the water. Didst thou ever hear the like?
But I think I might go with thee," she added wistfully, taking Lionel's
hand. "No vile creature can harm me when thou art by my side!"

Her innocent, confiding words captivated Lionel's heart, and he
exclaimed, "I will protect you, Lady Lilias, from every danger."

Then she led him to the great artificial lake at the back of the royal
mansion; and there, sure enough, lay the king stretched out his full
length upon the bank, with his fishing-rod dangling in the water.

Near the margin of the lake grew lovely white water-lilies, and the Lady
Lilias stooped to gather them. But her father was all alarmed on
beholding her approach the spot which fate had connected with so much
danger for his child.

"My daughter, my Lilias!" he cried out, "when I have fished up the
creature from below the lake that waits to marry thee, I will kill it,
and then thou may'st wander as thou wilt. But oh, keep far from the
water's edge, my child!"

"Ah, here is a _Lion_ will guard thy _Lily_, father dear," returned the
girl laughing, and she presented young Lionel to the king.

But, at this instant, a violent tugging was perceptible at the end of
the monarch's angling-rod; and he rose in great excitement to draw in
his line, which this time seemed to have hooked some extraordinary
booty.

Lionel ran forward, and assisted the king to land it.

And what was the wondrous fish? A little tiny fairy-body all laughing
and shining like a mermaid.

"I have come," she began gaily, "from the bottom of the lake, but your
Majesty need not fear that fair Lady Lilias will fall in love with an
old fairy like me. Yet there stands one at her side, my godson, young
Lionel, old Martin the gardener's son, who has indeed come also from
beneath the lake; and deeper down than I. For you must know that below
your Majesty's feet, and below the royal palace and this park and pond,
there are workmen grovelling sordidly for gold, and the danger is, that
some fine morning both the palace and the hamlet may be undermined, and
fall into the pit that they are digging."

"Oh," cried the king greatly relieved, "then my Lilias shall marry young
Lionel! He is a goodly youth; and my heart shall be at rest about my
daughter. And now, good Fairy, that I fear no longer an ugly monster for
my child, I shall fish no more to-day, but inquire into these things,
that threaten the safety of my kingdom!"

Lady Lilias and "My Lord Lionel," as he was now called, were married at
once; for the good fairy declared, _a good thing could never be done too
soon_.

The marriage was a grand one, as became a royal princess of the great
house of Primus Lackaday; and immediately after the ceremony, by
Lionel's desire, the young pair drove in a glass-coach, drawn by eight
swift chargers, through the forest, Lilias bearing in her hands a large
posy of water-lilies--away, past the cascade, and on, to the opening of
the gold-mine, at the back of the mountain.

An order was sent down in the basket, by a special messenger, bidding
old Martin and Dame Ursula ascend to meet their Lionel and his noble
bride.

As it was, the poor old couple had been searching in anguish for their
son; and now, weary and heavy-hearted, they had arrived just at the foot
of the opening when the news came to them.

Then the sudden reaction, and the sight of the brand-new silk and velvet
garments Lionel sent down for them, almost killed them with joy. "'Tis
my _Lionel's voice_ I hear!" cried Dame Ursula as they were being drawn
up in the basket.

"Ah me, the odour of my flowers after twenty years!" sobbed out Martin,
the tears trickling down his furrowed cheeks at the recognition of his
favourites.

And so they were all happy again; and Lionel's fortune was made,
although his father found no heaps of gold.

As for the king, _in three days_ he was back to his fishing again, lying
on the bank of the great pond, as happy as ever he was in the old times
when he was only "My Lord Lackaday." He said the land was too much
trouble for him; Lilias and Lionel might rule it as they thought fit.
And so these two _really_ carried out all _he_ had promised to do.

The good little fairy-body rarely appeared in the country after Lionel's
wedding-day; for the people were all happy now, "and," as she declared,
"had no need of her."

And then it happened that one day at noontide, when the sun was shining
overhead with a dazzling heat, and all the air was warm and drowsy, the
king, who had been angling since early morning, without catching the
smallest minnow, and had fallen fast asleep, lost his balance, and
rolled down the sloping bank into the water, and disappeared. They
dredged the lake for his body in vain. No trace of him was to be
discovered, although they sent the most expert divers down to search.

But, strange to say, every evening from that time forward, just about
sunset, a little bird with plumage gay, called "_The Kingfisher_," might
be seen to haunt the margin of the lake, ready, with its pointed beak,
to hook up the tiny fishes, that glided in shoals at nightfall near the
surface of the water.


III.

CASPAR THE COBBLER, OF COBWEB CORNER.


In the centre of a certain old city in the Land of Langaffer stood a
king's castle, surrounded by a high turreted wall, with many little
gablets and long windows, and balconies adorned with flowers. A
courtyard full of soldiers was inside. Like the city, the castle was
picturesque, with its quaint architecture, its nooks and turns, its
solid masonry and stone-carving. The interior must have been beautiful
indeed; for the king, who had a very excellent taste, could scarcely be
induced to leave his royal home even for an hour, so much did he love
it. He was wont to inhale the fresh air every morning on the southern
parapet where the clematis trailed over the antique coping, and, in the
long summer twilight he would enjoy gazing at the east, where the
sinking sun had spread its golden hue over his dominions, from the tiny
top turret pointing to the woods and mountains that lay away beyond the
city.

Now, in close proximity to the castle were some of the darkest and
narrowest streets of the city. One of these was Cobweb Corner; and here,
in a small attic, dwelt a humpbacked, plain-visaged little man, who the
whole day long loved to think about the king. He was called "Caspar the
Cobbler, of Cobweb Corner."

The people all knew Caspar, but they did not know that Caspar's secret
ambition was to become some day cobbler to the king.

Caspar's father and mother had been poor folk, like himself; and when he
came into the world, a sickly, plain-featured babe, his mother sent for
the very last of the fairies in the land to be her child's godmother,
and to bequeath him some wonderful gift which might make up for his lack
of strength and beauty.

"What an ugly child," said the fairy; "yet somebody will love him, and
he may become beautiful--and, when all else forsake him, why, then the
most graceful of the birds shall be his friends."

Poor Caspar's mother considered that she had accomplished a great thing
in persuading the fairy to act as godmother; but his father thought he
could do better for his son in teaching him his own handicraft to the
best of his ability.

And therefore, with an extraordinary amount of care and patience, the
old man instructed his little lad how to manage his awl; and, ere he
died, had the satisfaction of knowing that his Caspar bade fair to
become as clever a cobbler as any in the city.

Several years had passed, and Caspar lived on alone in the little attic
near the castle wall. The way up to his room was dark and narrow, up
rickety stairs, and along crooked passages; but, once at the top, there
was plenty of cheerful light streaming in through the dormer-window, and
the twittering of the birds, as they built their nests in the eaves, had
something pleasant and gay.

The feathered songsters were Caspar's most constant companions, and he
understood every word they said. He confided to them all his secrets,
amongst others, what a proud man he should be, the day he made a pair of
shoes for the king! Other secrets he imparted also to the birds, which
the city folk down in the streets guessed little about.

Many and many a time, as Caspar sat so much alone, he would sigh, and
wish that his fairy-godmother would come and see him sometimes. But,
alas, that could not be, for the king had given strict orders that the
sentinels posted at the city gates should allow "no fairy bodies" in.
Even the very last of the kind was, by a new law, banished to
far-distant fairyland. "No more magic wands, no more wonders nowadays,"
sighed poor Caspar; "nothing can be won but by hard and constant work,
work, work!"

Moreover, poor Caspar had to learn that even honest work sometimes fails
to ward off hunger and poverty. For many a long month the crooked
little cobbler was doomed to toil, and to suffer privation as well. He
might make his boots and shoes night and day, and lay them out, pair by
pair, in neat rows along a shelf in the corner of his attic, but what
availed all this if no customer ever ventured up to look at them, nor
even to order mendings?

The fact was, that about this time the folk in that old city began to
wear _wooden_ shoes, which, they said, were good enough for them, and
lasted longer than any other.

Only fair-haired, blue-eyed Mabel, Dame Dimity's daughter, who had the
daintiest little feet in the world, and knew how to dance like any
fairy--she wore lovely little shoes manufactured by Caspar.

When Midsummer-day came round Mabel was elected May-queen. Then she came
tripping up the rickety staircase, and along the dingy passage to the
attic workshop, in Cobweb Corner. "Caspar, Caspar, here, quick! My
measure for a darling little pair of shoes to dance in!" and she held
out the most elegant little foot which any shoemaker could possibly
choose for a pattern.

Three days after that the shoes were finished, a bonnie wee pair of
crimson ones, in the softest of kid-leather; and when Mabel came to
fetch them, and tried them on, they fitted like a glove. She drew them
both on, and danced round the room to show how delighted she was. And
dear! how lovely they looked, all three--Mabel and the little red
shoes!!

Poor deformed Caspar smiled as he watched her, and felt happy to have
rendered her so happy.

"I love to see you, little Mabel," he said, "and that is why I shall
shut up my workshop on Midsummer-day, and go out to the common when you
are crowned 'Queen o' the May.' I only wish the sky may be as blue--as
blue--as your eyes are, Mabel!" And then the crooked little cobbler
stammered and blushed at his own forwardness in paying such a compliment
to the prettiest maiden in the land.

But little Mabel said, "I will watch out for you, Caspar. I shall care
for nobody on all the green so much as you."

Caspar could scarcely quite believe little Mabel when she said this; yet
he was greatly touched by her kindness, and he promised to go and look
at her from afar.

When Midsummer-day dawned over that old city the weather was
beautiful--the sky, as blue as Mabel's eyes; and young and old flocked
out to bask in the sunshine, and enjoy the games and the merry-making.
Even the king sallied forth from his castle, accompanied by his
courtiers, to favour with his presence the time-honoured custom of
crowning the May-queen.

When he beheld little Mabel he exclaimed, "What a lovely maiden, fit to
be a princess!"

Caspar was standing quite near, and heard it with his own ears. He
expected after that to see Mabel drop a curtsey to the king. But no, the
little maiden looked straight at him--poor Caspar--instead, and with her
queen's flowery wand, pointed down to her bonnie crimson shoes.

The cobbler of Cobweb Corner was becoming dazed with happiness. Curious
thoughts about his fairy-godmother crept into his head; strange thrills
of pleasure and of pain shot through his dwarfish frame, and turned him
well-nigh sick with emotion. It seemed to Caspar that he had grown older
and younger in that one summer day. He felt giddy, and suddenly longed
for his quiet attic in Cobweb Corner.

He stole silently away, and had left the crowd behind him on the Common,
when he suddenly became aware of a tiny hand slipped into his own; and,
looking down to the ground, observed a dainty pair of red shoes tripping
lightly by his side. "What! little Mabel?"

"I just wanted to leave when you would leave, Caspar. For there was
nobody on all the green I cared for so much as you."

Ah, this time he did believe her,--poor Caspar! And so he must tell her
all _his_ secret. "I love you, little Mabel, oh so much! And oh, if some
day you could marry me, I should keep you in darling little crimson
shoes all your life! And who knows--perhaps through your love Mabel--I
might grow better-looking. They said my godmother promised it."

"I love you as you are, plain or handsome, you dear, good Caspar," cried
little Mabel, "and I will marry you just as soon as my mother, Dame
Dimity, gives her consent!"

Alas! True love is ever doomed to be crossed, else this little tale of
ours had been a good deal shorter; had, perhaps, even ended here!

Dame Dimity would on _no_ account yield her consent to the union of her
daughter, the beauty of the town, with the cobbler of Cobweb Corner.
Why, if it came to that, there was Christopher Clogs, the wooden
shoemaker, who was a good figure and a wealthy man to boot! He lived in
the Market Place, and drove a thriving business, whilst Caspar was known
to have only one coat to his back. Really the effrontery of Cobweb
Corner was astounding!

Poor Mabel's eyes were now often dimmed with tears; yet once every day
she passed through the narrow street near the castle wall, and gazed up
at Caspar's gable-window, until she saw the little shoemaker smile down
at her. After she had vanished, Caspar would feel very lonely; yet he
said to himself, "When I want to see her blue eyes, then I must look at
the sky. She'll always have blue eyes, and she'll always be _my Mabel_."

These days Caspar rarely left his workshop in the old garret. He was
very poor, and had nothing to buy with; so he went to no shops, and he
avoided the neighbours, as they were beginning to make merry about him,
and Mabel, and Dame Dimity. He could not bear to hear them say that
Mabel was betrothed to Christie Clogs, the wooden shoemaker. Anything
but that!

When he had nobody to talk to, why, he opened his window to converse
with the swallows, and asked them every evening what was the news--for
Caspar could not afford to take in a newspaper.

"Oh, what do you think!" they cried one night, swirling round his head
in circles, as their custom was, "here is something to interest you,
Caspar! The king has got _sore feet_--from wearing tight boots, they
say,--and sits in an arm-chair with his feet wrapped up in a flannel.
We saw it all just a while ago."

"I took stock of His Majesty's feet that day," said Caspar promptly,
"the day he was out on the 'Green.' I can't help measuring people's feet
with my eye," he added apologetically to the swallows; "you see, it's my
trade, and it is the only thing I am good at."

But ere he had finished speaking, the friendly swallows had described
their last swift circle in the air, and, with a sharp scream of
"Goodnight," had darted into their nests under the old pointed roof.

That evening, ere he lay down in _his_ nest, poor Caspar had cut out of
soft, well-tanned leather a pair of shoes, which he knew to be the
king's own measure. "Ah," said Caspar, "the poor king must have his new
shoes as soon as possible, for it is awful to suffer toe-ache, and to be
obliged to sit all day long with one's feet swathed in flannel." And
Caspar sat with his leather apron on, and wrought as if for life and
death at the new shoes. He was too busy even to rise and look at the
window for little Mabel passing by.

At last they were completed. Then the humpbacked cobbler, having washed
his hands, and brushed his one coat, went off, quivering with
excitement, bearing the new shoes in his hands, away downstairs, and
through the narrow street under the castle wall, till he came and stood
before the castle gate. Here the sentinel on duty demanded what he
wanted.

"Pair of shoes for His Majesty," responded Caspar in a businesslike
manner, and was admitted.

When he had crossed the courtyard, and had arrived at the entrance of
the inner apartments, he was accosted by a couple of lackeys covered
with gold lace, and with powdered hair.

"Heigho! What's all this!" they exclaimed. "Where dost thou hail from,
old Hop-o'-my-thumb?"

"I am Caspar the cobbler, of Cobweb Corner," replied the little man
gravely; "as you may perceive by these new shoes which I bring for the
king, and which are His Majesty's exact fit."

"Begone, knave!" cried the lackeys indignantly. "Dost thou imagine the
king would wear anything contrived by the likes of thee. Be off, old
mountebank, ere thou and thy shoes are flung into the castle dungeon!"

In vain poor Caspar intreated; they would not even listen to him. At
last, in utter terror for his life, he hurried away, disappointed,
mortified, sick at heart, carrying the despised piece of workmanship, at
which he had toiled so carefully and conscientiously all these weeks,
back home to his obscure lodging in Cobweb Corner. Here, overcome with
vexation, the little man flung himself upon his bed, and cried himself
asleep.

When he awoke it was evening. A fresh breeze was gently stirring the
casement, the window was open, and the swallows passing and repassing it
in circles, producing a screaming, chattering noise all the time.

Caspar's eye fell first on his work-table, on which lay, side by side,
his latest, best work, the brand new shoes for the king. Ah! the
swallows saw them too, and this was the cause of all the extra
twittering and screaming this evening.

"Dear feathered friends," cried Caspar, springing to the open window,
"how can ye help me? They are finished! They fit! But how are they to be
conveyed to His Majesty? The menials in the castle would not let me in."

"Wee--wee--we could carry _one_!" piped the swallows, slily, dipping
their long lanced wings, and swirling swiftly by.

"No, not _one_, ye silly creatures!" cried Caspar all out of breath;
"_both_ or none!"

The swallows made a second long sweep, and as they neared the gablet
again, hissed forth, "Singly were surer." But, as Caspar made a sign of
impatience, four of his friends, the swifts, darted straight across the
window-sill to the work-table, and, seizing the new shoes by heel and
toe, sped off with them across the old wall to the royal castle.

It seemed but an instant and they were back, screaming and hissing and
circling towards their nest in the eaves. Caspar put his head out at
the open casement, and listened anxiously to their sounds.

"Dropped them at his bed-room window--the little balcony--some one
opened--took them in--so, so, sleep well, sleep well,--goodnight!"

The following morning Caspar the cobbler was up and dressed before
daybreak, and down in the streets, in and out amongst the crowds, trying
to overhear some gossip about the king.

The city folk were surprised to see him once more in their midst; and
good-naturedly permitted him to sit at their firesides for old times'
sake, although he called for no ale, nor lighted a long pipe like the
others. All poor Caspar desired was to ascertain the latest court news;
but, to his annoyance, he was doomed to learn first a great many things
that did not please him about Dame Dimity and Christie Clogs.

At last, late on in the afternoon, somebody inquired if the company were
informed of the good tidings, "that His Majesty the king was recovered
of his foot-ache, and could walk about again, thanks to a shoemaker who
had succeeded in fitting His Majesty's foot to a 'T.'"

"_That_ shoemaker, whoever he be, has founded his own fortune this day!"
exclaimed the innkeeper.

Caspar sprang to his feet, and at the same time the pewter tankards and
all the pipes, the host and all the customers, danced round before his
eyes. With a great gasp of excitement he bounded out to the street, and
sped on to the market place, past Dame Dimity's, and past Christie
Clogs', and on to the narrow street with the overshadowing wall, and on,
and on, until he arrived at the royal entrance. He obtained admittance
as before, and pressed forward till he was arrested by the supercilious
lackeys in gold-lace livery.

"What! here again, old Hop-o'-my-thumb!" cried they.

"But I am the royal shoemaker, gentlemen!" exclaimed Caspar, proudly,
"and that was my own work which I carried in my hand yesterday morning."

"What knavery is this?" returned the head menial of the castle, "the
royal shoemaker, villain, is no clumsy clown from these parts; but he
and his wares come from abroad, from Paris. He is, moreover, with the
king at present, receiving his reward for the beautiful new pair of
shoes in softly-tanned leather, which arrived last night at dusk. He is
an elegant gentleman, this Parisian, and knows fine manners as well as
his trade, for he ne'er goes nor comes without dealing out _largesse_ to
us, the gentlemen attendants, and therein exhibits his good breeding."

"But the shoes!" stammered out Caspar all aghast. "The shoes! I made
them, and His Majesty the king has them on at this very moment. Confound
your Parisian!" he screamed, waxing wroth; "it was _I_ who made the
shoes--they were found on the western balcony last night--His Majesty
must know that they are the work of Caspar the cobbler, of Cobweb
Corner!"

At this moment a musical murmur of voices was audible from within, and a
creaking of boots; and at once the angry lackeys turned smiling faces
towards the departing French merchant, who politely pressed a little
coin into each of their outstretched palms.

When at length he took his departure, Caspar followed him some way with
a very ugly expression disfiguring his features. "I could kill this
dandy interloper, who steals the reward and credit of my hard-earned
toil! I could stick my awl through him!"

Poor Caspar, it was well that at this instant he was accosted by his
loving little angel, his sweet, blue-eyed Mabel!

"Eh, my Caspar, whatever has come over you, and whither are you going,
that you do not even see your own Mabel? And, oh! I am thankful to have
met you now, for look, Caspar, with trudging past Cobweb Corner every
day my pretty shoes are well-nigh worn through! So I must have a new
pair, and you may set about making them at once."

Then poor Caspar told her about his grievous disappointment at the
castle, and the insults and humiliation he had experienced at the hands
of the royal underlings. "It is too bad." he said, "to think that nobody
knows that I made them!"

"The swallows know it," added Mabel pensively, "and you should have
followed their advice; for, after all, they are your best friends."

"What!" returned Caspar sharply, "and sent only one at a time? Is that
what you mean, Mabel?"

"I dare say that was what _they_ meant," she returned.

Caspar groaned.

"But look," continued the little maiden gaily, her blue eyes dancing
with a bright idea, "remember this, O Caspar, the king's shoes must
by-and-by become worn through, like mine! And then--and then, he must
have new ones too--and then--and then we'll take the swallows' advice,
and act with greater caution."

That evening when Caspar went home to Cobweb Corner, and flung open his
gable-window, there were _no_ graceful circles described overhead, and
_no_ twittering amongst the eaves. All was silent. The swallows had
taken leave of Cobweb Corner, and of the royal castle, and of the quaint
old city, with its many spires and turrets. They were off, all together,
a joyous merry troup of tourists, swiftly, swiftly winging their way to
warmer climes for the winter.

Poor Caspar missed them sadly, and reproached them a little at first for
being heartless, selfish creatures. Soon, however, he gained courage
again; and began to work at Mabel's shoes ... and then at the king's--to
have them ready by spring time, when, as the little maiden said, "the
others should be worn out."

Several times that winter Caspar saw the king walk out in the identical
shoes his hands had manufactured; and his heart gave a leap every time
he observed them becoming thinner.

At last the soft western breezes, the budding flowers, and the
bright-blue, sunny sky of springtime came again; and the swallows
returned swiftly, swiftly, swirling and screaming, just as they had done
last year. They nested in their old corner under the eaves of Caspar's
gable-roof. And by-and-by, when it was gossipped throughout the city
that the king's feet were paining him again, because the very last new
shoes--which _really_ came from Paris, didn't fit at all, then the
swallows at nightfall hissed at Caspar's window, "_Soon, soon, see they
be ready! Singly is surely!_"

The dandified tradesman from Paris arrived at the castle with all his
samples; but he was received with suspicion, and dismissed in disgrace,
and this time distributed no _largesse_ amongst the gold-laced lackeys.

The same night the swallows might have been observed darting off from
Cobweb Corner, bearing _one_ neatly-made shoe in soft, well-tanned
leather. They dropped it outside the royal window, on the western
balcony.

The following morning there was a great proclamation out all over the
town. The mayor read it aloud on the market place in front of Christie
Clogs' house, offering an immense reward to the person who could produce
the missing shoe, "fellow to that one discovered on the king's balcony
last night"; and a second reward, "ten times as great to the
manufacturer of the said pair of shoes, which fitted His Majesty to a
'T.'"

In front of the crowd thronging the market place stood Caspar, his
figure erect, his face transformed into a beautiful face by the delight
which had taken possession of his whole soul. The success of an honest
workman beamed in his countenance, and rendered the poor cobbler noble.

Mabel ran to his side, and he placed the missing shoe in her hands. "It
is safe with my true, blue-eyed darling!" cried Caspar proudly; and the
people raised a hearty cheer.

Then they formed a procession, and, with Caspar and Mabel at their head,
marched to the royal presence.

This time the king received Caspar himself, and from Mabel's lips
learned the whole story of the shoes from the very beginning.

After that, there was great rejoicing in the quaint old city; for both
Caspar and Mabel were now the favourites with all the better folk. The
king issued a command for their immediate marriage, and appointed Caspar
to a post in the castle.

But the only title Caspar was willing to accept was that of "Cobbler to
the King"; and, as such, he subsequently removed his belongings from
Cobweb Corner to a fine large house which was prepared for him in the
market place.

The fairy godmother was allowed to come and grace the wedding with her
presence; and she promised so many blessings that Caspar and Mabel ought
to have been still happier if that had been possible.

As for Dame Dimity, she married Christie Clogs herself; and report says
she led a sore life of it when he came home tipsy at night, and began to
fling his wooden shoes about.


IV.

DAME DOROTHY'S DOG.


On the outskirts of Langaffer village, and not far from the great pine
forest, stood the cottage of old Dame Dorothy, with its latticed windows
and picturesque porch, and its pretty little garden, fenced in with
green palings and privet hedge.

Dame Dorothy was a nice, particular old lady, who spent her time in and
about her house, trying to make things neat and cosy. In winter she
might be seen polishing her mahogany furniture, rubbing bright her
brazen candlesticks and copper kettle, or sweeping about the fireplace;
whilst in summertime she was mostly busy weeding her garden, raking the
little walks, and watering her flowers.

Yet she never smiled, only sighed very often; and toiled every day more
diligently than the day before.

Strange to say, Dame Dorothy was not comfortable in spite of all her
conscientiously-performed labours; nor happy, although she lived in such
a beautiful little cottage. She never imagined for a moment that the
cause of this could be the fact--that she kept a black dog.

Black Nero was a magnificent mastiff, with not a white hair on his back.
He had run into Dame Dorothy's one Fifth of November from the forest,
when quite a little puppy; and she had housed him and fed him ever
since; and now she was so much attached to him that she declared she
could not part with him for the world.

In return for her care he trampled over her flower-beds, tore down her
hollyhocks, and scraped up the roots of her "London Pride" with his
fore-paws; made a passage for himself through her privet hedge, and lay
stretched on fine days his full length on her rustic sofa in the
door-porch.

When the rosy-cheeked village children passed by to school in the
morning Nero snarled and snapped at them through the railings, so that
not one durst venture to say "Good-morrow, Dame Dorothy."

Even the next-door neighbours were afraid of him; and some acquaintances
of the widow, who themselves kept cats and dogs, and nice little soft
kittens as pets, now rarely invited her over to a friendly dance or a
wedding or christening; for if they did the black dog was certain to
accompany his mistress; and then, in the midst of the party, he would
raise such a barking, and create such a confusion, that none of the
dames could get speaking.

In winter, when the cold blasts swirled dreamily through the leafless
branches of the Langaffer beeches, causing them to creak and moan; when
the snow lay thick upon the ground, and the nights closed in apace, and
the villagers relished the comforts of the "ingle-nook,"
then--alas!--there was no fireside enjoyment for poor Dame Dorothy. She
might fasten her shutters, and draw her armchair close to the hearth;
she might pile up the logs in the chimney to make a blazing fire--but
all in vain! Home cheer there was none; for the black dog was there,
with his great body extended between her and the warmth. She might boil
the kettle, and gaze at herself in its shining lid; but Nero's face was
reflected in the kettle-lid too; and in all the lids, and pots and pans,
and pewters and coppers right round the room, with his ugly muzzle
half-open for growling and snarling.

Moreover, the dog was so greedy and thankless, he never wagged his tail,
but would snap at the victuals his mistress herself was eating; and when
she did give him the choicest dainties that came off her gridiron, and
the very top of the cream, he would only whine for more.

For all this, Dame Dorothy had no idea of parting with the graceless
brute, but continued to pet and pamper him. She was even secretly proud
of Nero, because he was the biggest dog in the village, and by far the
most terrible. Once she told the neighbours over the palings that he was
a great protection to her, especially at night, and she "such a poor
lone widow!"

Whereupon these good people honestly replied, "Oh, Mistress Dorothy,
never dread a worse enemy than your own black dog!"

Then in her heart she remembered how that very morning Nero had indeed
caught her thumb between his teeth when impatiently snatching his food;
and how the evening before he had upset the milkpail, and left the black
mark of his paw on her new knitted quilt; and how, one day last week, he
had sat down on her best Sunday cap. And Dame Dorothy knew in her heart
that the village folk spoke truly; but she would not acknowledge it,
no--but with a melancholy shake of her head, repeated, "Poor dear Nero!
People have something against thee, my dear black doggie!"

Now it happened that one fine morning in May, when the lark was warbling
high overhead, and the hawthorn bushes were putting on their first pink
blossoms, and all the forest was gay with budding flowers and singing
birds, and the village school-children were passing hand-in-hand,
carrying their little slates and satchels, that they met a tiny fairy
all in white, with a wondrous beaming face, and golden hair floating
down over her shoulders. Naturally they stopped to stare at her, for
they had never seen such a lovely little lady before; and she smiled
pleasantly, for she had never beheld such a collection of wondering
round eyes, and so many wide-open mouths gaping at her.

Presently she asked, "Can you tell me, young people, whose is that
pretty cottage, so nicely situated at the corner of the wood, with the
beautiful porch and palings?"

"Dame Dorothy's!" exclaimed they all in a breath.

"It must be very delightful there," she continued. "I shall go in, and
see Dame Dorothy."

"Don't! She keeps a dog," cried one, "and he will eat you up."

"Such a nasty, big black dog," added another, "that barks----"

"Like a lion," interposed a third.

"And bites like a tiger!" added a fourth.

"Oh, don't go, pretty lady!" repeated a fifth and sixth, and many more
childish voices together; "and pray don't open the gate, for we are all
so afraid he might spring out at us."

"Thank you, my dears, but I am not afraid," said the fairy. "And I
intend to visit Dame Dorothy all the same."

Then the children were more astonished still when they saw her glide in
between the palings without ever unlatching the gate. She was such a
slender little fairy-body! But they held their breaths, and clutched at
one another's skirts with fear, as they heard the harsh yelp of Nero,
and perceived him bounding forward from his seat in the doorway.

"Ah! eh! oh! he will devour her!" they all gasped out together. But just
then the little lady was waving her tiny hand toward their school-house;
and they all ran on so fast, so fast, that the door was not quite closed
when they arrived.

And now the good little fairy with her white dress, and her golden
tresses floating behind her, fixed her blue eyes very steadily on the
dog's black eyes, and held up her tiny forefinger.

Thus she walked straight into Dame Dorothy's cottage, and, as she flung
open the door, a whole flood of sunshine streamed in along with her.

And the black dog hung his head, and followed her slowly, growling and
grinding his teeth as if he would best like to snatch her, and munch her
up, and swallow her down all in a minute.

But Dame Dorothy was enchanted with her bright little visitor; for, to
tell the truth, the callers-in were very rare that year at the woodside
cottage, and the widow's heart often yearned for some one to speak to.

The white fairy inquired how it was that so few flowers were seen in the
garden, and so few birds' nests under the eaves of the cottage; and why
Dame Dorothy did not take her knitting that fine morning, and enjoy the
bright sun in the doorway?

The widow looked melancholy, and heaved a deep sigh; but the black dog,
who had overheard every syllable, sneaked away with a low growling
noise, and knocked down a chair on purpose to indicate his malice.

"I shall return another day," said the good little fairy as she rose to
take leave, "and bring you such a sweet nosegay fresh from the forest,
to decorate the table and cheer your heart, because," she added, quite
in a whisper, lest Nero might hear her--"because I am sorry to see you
have none left in your flower-beds."

From this day forth Dame Dorothy's dog was "poorly." He skulked about
the garden, keeping to the gravel walk, with drooping ears and tail
between his legs. And by-and-by he began to leave his food untasted.

The poor widow noticed the change, and became anxious. Then presently
she grew more uneasy; and at last, greatly concerned about her
favourite's health, she set about cutting him out a warm coat for the
autumn out of her own best velvet mantle, for she was sure he had taken
the influenza.

By-and-by she observed that Nero grew worse on the days of the bright
little fairy's visits; that no sooner did the white robe and the golden
hair cross the threshold than he would move away from the fireside,
slink whining under the tables and chairs, and pass outside the house
altogether.

Yet Dame Dorothy could not help loving the sunny fairy who every time
fetched a lovely posy of sweet-scented flowers from the forest; to say
nothing of her winning voice, her musical laughter, her gentle, loving
eyes.

And the village children trooped often now past the woodside cottage,
for they wanted to catch a glimpse of the fairy as she went in and out;
and they were quite overjoyed when she spoke to them.

At last one day Dame Dorothy, who had got into the habit of telling the
fairy everything, thought she would consult her about her dog.

"Ah me, my poor Nero!" she said; "look at him, he is not thriving at
all. And what will become of me, a lone widow woman, if aught befall my
black dog? And only think, I cannot persuade him to wear the jacket I
sewed for him out of my own best mantle!"

"Poor black dog!" said the little fairy as gravely as she could, and
nothing more.

After that she went away; and the same night the dog disappeared.

Dame Dorothy sought for him high and low, called him by name, coaxingly,
entreatingly; but all in vain. Then she sat down in her great armchair
by her own fireside, and began to weep for her favourite.

Now it was a very comfortable chair, and the beech-logs in the wide
grate sent out a nice warm glow, and it was the first time for months
that the rightful possessor of the place could enjoy these in
undisturbed tranquillity.

Dame Dorothy soon fell fast asleep. And then she had such funny dreams
about _white_ dogs, and _black_ fairies, and school children, all
clothed in little jackets cut out of her own best mantle, that she
laughed aloud several times in her sleep, and indeed did not waken until
the morning sun sent his beams in through the diamond panes of her
window.

Many days Dame Dorothy searched for her black dog in every corner of the
cottage, and under every bush in the garden, and all among her privet
hedge, for she was sure he had lain down in some spot to die. But not
the least trace of him did she discover.

And then she gathered up all her grief to pour it forth in one loud,
intense lamentation the first time the bright little fairy should
arrive.

"But oh, do not weep so, good Dame Dorothy," said the little lady.
"When I return again, I shall fetch you another pet to keep you company
all day long, and bring joy to your heart, and peace to your fireside!"

She kept faithful to her promise, the good little fairy; for the next
time she came from the forest she brought with her a lovely
white-breasted _turtle-dove_ for Dame Dorothy.

The village children saw her on the road, and they all flocked in before
her, crying, "Good-morrow, Dame Dorothy. Oh, you are going to get such a
beautiful, _beautiful_ bird!" Then the old lady smiled at the children,
as she never had smiled for years and years.

And, as the days went by, the little garden near the great pine forest
grew fair and fragrant. The roses and the sweet woodbine clambered over
the pretty porch. The hollyhocks and the London-pride flourished once
more, and the little birds built their nests, and twittered fearlessly
under the eaves of the rustic cottage.

The new white pet became so tame and so gentle that it would eat from
its mistress's hand, and would perch lovingly upon her shoulder.

And when she was invited by her old acquaintances in the village to an
afternoon party, she was always requested to bring her pet along with
her; for all the villagers, young and old, who had formerly dreaded the
great black dog, now loved and welcomed _Dame Dorothy's dove_.


V.

THE LITTLE LOCKSMITH.


Long ago there lived in Langaffer a light-hearted, light-haired, lazy
little lad called Randal. He enjoyed a happy home, health and high
spirits, and a gay, merry life with his brothers and sisters.

They went to no school, but in the early Spring days sallied forth to
gather primroses and anemones; they knew the spot where the tallest
rushes grew, for plaiting into butterflies' cages, the best
seggan-leaves for tiny canoes, and could tell where the finest
blackbirds' eggs were to be found.

In autumn, when the leaves were turning yellow, and the squirrels were
fat and tame, they roamed together through the dingle in search of
hazel-nuts; and waded up and down the shallow stream, their chatter
mingling with its bubbling noise, whilst they tried to catch the darting
minnows.

Every corner of the village had echoed with their laughter, and with the
shrill, clear voice of Randal, the bonniest and blithest of the band.

Now, in a shady grove, at some distance from the village, there stood a
quaint-looking edifice, with antique windows and sculptured pillars
partly overgrown with ivy. The tiny lads and lasses of Langaffer knew it
well enough by sight; but little cared they who lived there, or what
might be inside. In the long summer twilight they chased one another
round the basement walls, and startled the swallows from the eaves with
their joyous screams; and that was enough for them.

Yet there came a day when Randal was alone, lying listlessly his full
length upon the grass, flapping away the midges with a blade of
spear-grass, just in front of the mansion, when he beheld the portal
open, and a youth step forth.

The young man had a beaming countenance, and walked with a quick,
elastic step.

Then Randal wondered for the first time in his life what that lofty
edifice could be, and why the youth came "all so smiling out" from its
stately portico. He sprang to his feet, and, running forward, cried out,
"Pray, sir, can you tell me what building is this?"

"Oh, a beautiful fairy palace," cried the stranger, "with such wonderful
things in every apartment! The oftener one enters, the more one sees,
and all so curious, so lovely!"

"What! Then you will take me with you the next time you go?" cried
Randal, eagerly.

"Oh, no, my lad," said the stranger. "If you wish to enter in you must
have a key of your own."

"But _where_ shall I get one?" said Randal.

"Make it!" was the reply. "If you go to the forge at the four roads'
end, and apprentice yourself to the locksmith there, he will show you
how to set about it. It's a labour that's well repaid."

The youth went away, and his words filled Randal with a strange yearning
to behold the interior of the mysterious mansion.

But he lost no time; he ran full speed till he came to the forge at the
four roads' end, and begged the locksmith to receive him as an
apprentice, and teach him how to construct a magic key, that would open
the fairy palace.

And there, at the smithy, Randal beheld a number of little locksmiths
about his own age, each with a leathern apron on, and arms bared to the
elbows, working away at the anvil. They were all making keys, and some
had well-nigh finished, whilst others were only beginning.

Then little Randal bared his arms too, and got a leathern apron on, and
began to work with all his might, thinking only of the beautiful fairy
palace, that stood so silent and majestic in the midst of the shady
pine-grove.

What could be within its walls? When should he obtain a peep at all the
wondrous things he had heard of? Not till his key was ready!

And alas! it was heavy work at the smithy. Day after day must the little
mechanic toil, till the great beads of perspiration gathered upon his
brow.

As for the other apprentices, only _some_ wrought steadily on, with
unflinching courage. Most of them, who were beginners, like Randal,
idled when the master locksmith chanced to leave the forge, and skimped
their work, and grumbled, and declared there was nothing in the palace
worth the labour.

One boy, whose key was almost shaped, gave up in despair, cried out that
all the treasures of Fairyland should not induce him to work another
minute; then flung down his tools upon the ground, tore off his apron,
and ran out into the green fields.

This discouraged many of the little workmen, who, one by one, dropped
their implements, and slipped away, murmuring that the task was too
difficult and tedious.

Poor Randal felt sorely tempted to follow their example; and indeed he
might have yielded, too, had not one pale-faced, earnest-looking boy,
who held a file and piece of polished metal in his hand, exclaimed,--

"Six times have I tried my key in the lock of the palace door, and all
in vain. The _seventh_ time I must succeed--and then--the treasures are
mine!"

"What that pale-faced boy can do, I can do," said Randal to himself;
and, like a thorough workman, he set himself bravely to his task,
determined, come what might, to finish it.

And every morning, when Randal left his home, and started for the forge,
he took his way through the pine grove, just to gaze a moment with awe
and admiration at the fairy palace, and for the twentieth time to fancy
himself deftly turning the key in the lock, and gliding softly in.

But once, as he hastened by at break of day, whom should he meet but
Sylvan, the squire's son, setting out with a couple of terriers to hunt
for weasels.

"Where are you going so early?" said Sylvan; and Randal told him.

Then the young squire laughed aloud, and cried out, "Oh, I have been a
locksmith too at the four roads' end! My father made me go and work like
a common slave. But I have had enough of that sort of life, and I don't
wish to hear anything more about 'locks and keys, and fairy palaces.'
Come with me, and I'll teach you how to set a trap."

But Randal silently shook his head, and went his way to the forge at the
four roads' end. Sylvan's words, however, continued to ring in his ears,
and spoiled his heart for his labour. And all that day the smithy seemed
in his eyes like an ugly den, and himself and the little locksmiths like
so many toil-worn slaves. And now he chafed and fretted; and now he
loitered at his work; and now he hastened to make up for squandered
time. And then, alas, in his haste, he broke the key he was making.

"Here's a pretty mess!" cried Randal in despair. "Must I start at the
beginning again? Or shall I give it up altogether? Ah! why did I hear
about the fairy palace at all?"

The temptation was strong to fling down his tools, as many another
before him had done, and leave the anvil for ever. Randal's ten fingers
were just raised to unfasten the ties of his leather apron, when a
joyous cry rang through the forge.

It came from the pale-faced, earnest-looking lad, who held up his
shining new key now completed. "My seventh trial," he shouted, with
tears in his eyes, "and I know that it is perfect!" and he bounded forth
in the direction of the wonderful mansion in the forest.

At the sight of the pale boy's success Randal blushed deep red, and bit
his lip; then, picking up his instruments one by one, he begged the
master to give him another bit of iron.

After that, the little locksmith wrought the livelong day with more
energy and greater courage than any one at the forge. Before daybreak
now he hastened to his work, ever choosing the nearest way, and avoiding
the wood, lest he might encounter idle Sylvan, the squire's son. But
once, at eventide, whom should he chance to meet but the gentle,
pale-faced boy, coming from the fairy house, and looking so radiant and
happy, that Randal rushed towards him, and questioned him about the
treasures.

"Oh, Randal!" cried his friend, "you will simply be enchanted when you
come. For, once within the fairy palace, you must look and listen, and
laugh, and admire."

"Oh, tell me no more," cried the little locksmith, "my key is almost
finished!"

After this many more days passed in silent, steady toil; until at last,
one bright morning in early Spring, as the sunbeams were breaking
through the mist, Randal quietly laid down his file, and, nervously
clasping a brightly-polished key in his vigorous young hand, glided
softly from the smithy, and out into the cool air.

The master locksmith stepped to the threshold to look after him; and,
as he shaded his hand with his horny palm, and watched the lad's
retreating figure, a smile of satisfaction and approval flitted across
his wrinkled face.

The new key turned smoothly in the lock, the door was opened, and he
entered in.

Randal wandered through the fairy palace. He found himself in beautiful
apartments, lofty, grand and airy, containing countless lovely and
curious objects. Some of these he could only look at; others he might
feel and handle at his pleasure.

There were portraits of kings and great warriors, pictures of
battlefields and processions, which filled his mind with wonder; of
quaint streets, and homely firesides, and little children attired in
funny costumes, that made him laugh, and clap his hands, and hold his
sides for merriment.

In another apartment were various kinds of coloured glasses and prisms,
through which the little Langaffer lad looked at strange countries he
had never dreamed of before. Nay, from a certain oriel window he
discovered stars, so many and so beautiful that he trembled with
delight.

And, all the time, there were other children from other villages
rambling, like Randal, through the chambers of the fairy mansion. They
moved gently about from room to room, taking one another's hands, and
holding their breaths in astonishment. And only one subdued murmur
filled the air of "Oh, how lovely, how fine! Ah, how strange!" For,
besides all these things, there were exquisite flowers to be seen, and
animals of every shape and size, and pearls and corals, precious stones
and sparkling gems, and pretty contrivances for the children to play
with.

And the very best of it all was, that Randal possessed the key which he
himself had made. He was as much the lord of the "wonderful palace" now
as any one!

The villagers were indeed astonished when Randal went home, and related
to them what he had seen. And they all _respected_ the little locksmith,
who, by his own honest toil, had gotten what they called, "The Key to
the Treasures of Fairyland."



ROMANCE IN HISTORY.



HOW CICELY DANCED BEFORE THE KING.

BY THOMAS ARCHER.


The old manor-house of Sir Christopher Burroughs of Stolham, Norfolk,
lay shining in the last rays of the setting sun, on the eve of May Day
1646. The long range of windows along the front of the building between
the two buttresses flashed with crimson and gold; for the house faced
the south-west, and the brilliant light that shone from the rim of the
blood-red cloud behind which the sun was sinking, glowed deep on the
diamond panes. But the house was lighted within as well as without. In
the large low-ceilinged dining-hall wax candles burned in great silver
sconces, and the cloth was laid for supper. In the upper room the gleams
that came through the spaces between the heavy curtains showed that
there was company there. If any one had gone close to the porch and
listened, he could have heard the sound of voices talking loudly, and
now and then a laugh, or could have seen the shadows of servants passing
to and fro in the buttery just within the great hall; nay, any one going
round the corner of the house where there was an angle of the wall of
the garden, could have heard from an upper window the sound of a lute
playing a slow and stately measure, and if his ears had been very sharp
indeed, he would have detected the light footfalls of dancers on the
polished oaken floor.

It was an exciting time; for King Charles I and his cavaliers and the
army that they commanded had been beaten by Oliver Cromwell and the
soldiers of the Parliament at Naseby, in Northamptonshire, and the King
had lost all his baggage and his letters and papers. After this Charles
had been from place to place with his army, till he reached Oxford,
where his council was staying, and from this town he thought he should
be able either to get to London or to go northward and join the Scotch
army.

But news had just come to Sir Christopher Burroughs that Cromwell and
his general, Fairfax, had marched to Newbury, only a mile from Oxford;
and though the worthy knight of Stolham was not fighting for the King
any more than most of his neighbours in Norfolk were, he was more on the
side of the Royal cause than on that of the Parliament; so that the
report of the King's danger gave him a good deal of anxiety, and he and
his friends and their ladies were talking about it as they waited for
the butler to come and tell them that supper was ready. The troubles of
the times did not always prevent people from eating and drinking and
having merry-makings. The people around Stolham did not care enough for
the Royal cause to give up all pleasures; and some of them--friends of
Sir Christopher too--were more inclined to side with the Parliament and
the Puritan generals, though at present they said very little about it;
and Sir Christopher presently called out,--

"Well, we met not to talk of politics or of the King's affairs; so let
us to supper, though I cannot but say that I would fain see the ceasing
of this strife, and the King with his own again."

"Yes, with his own; but not with that which belongs to his subjects,"
said a farmer, who had been fined for not paying the taxes which the
King had ordered to be forced upon the people without the consent of
Parliament.

"Come, come," said Dame Burroughs, laughing and taking the farmer's arm,
"we women hear enough of such talk every day in the week; but to-morrow
will be May Day, and there will be open house to our friends, and for
the lads and lasses, dancing at the May-pole, and a supper in the barn.
Let us keep English hearts within us even in these dark times, and make
merry as we can."

"But methinks the May-pole is no more than a pagan thing, an idol to
encourage to vanity and profane dancing," said a sour-faced man, who had
been standing by the window.

"It may have been a pagan custom once," said Sir Christopher; "and the
same may be said of preaching from a pulpit; but all depends on the way
of it, and not on the thing itself. As to dancing, it is an old custom
enough; there is Scripture warrant for it perhaps, and it comes
naturally to all young creatures. I'll be bound, now, that our Dick and
his little cousin Cicely are at this moment getting the steps of the
gavotte or the other gambadoes that have come to us from France and
Spain, that they may figure before the company to-morrow."

"That are they!" said the dame laughing, as a servant opened the door,
and each of Sir Christopher's friends gave a hand to a lady to lead them
down to supper. "Hark! don't you hear my kinswoman's lute? Poor, kind
Dorothy, she will play to them for the hour long, and likes nothing
better. I can hear their little feet pit-a-patting; and Dick would
insist on putting on his new fine suit, all brave with Spanish point and
ribbon velvet, and the boy has buckled on a sword, too, while the little
puss, Cicely, not to be backward, is all a prop with a stiff petticoat
and a brocaded fardingale, and has on her little silk cap with the
pearls, just as I have heard the fashion is among the Queen's French
ladies of honour. Hark! there they go, tum-tum-ty, tum-twenty-tum,
tum-twenty-tum! Bless their little hearts!"

The sour-faced man made a grimace; for his wife was just before him, and
he could see her feet moving in time to the music as they all went down
into the great hall laughing and talking; nor did the sound of the music
cease till it was shut out by the closing of the door after they had sat
down to supper; and even then it came upon them in gushes of melody
every time a servant opened the door, to bring in another dish or a
flagon of ale or of wine.

They heard it when, supper being nearly over, the butler came in softly
and whispered to Sir Christopher, who, asking them to excuse him for a
moment, went out into the hall.

A horseman was standing there, booted and spurred, and with his riding
whip in his hand, and his steed was snorting, and scraping the ground
outside.

"Do you know me again, Sir Christopher?" said the man, in a low voice.

"Let me bring you to the light," muttered the knight, leading him to the
porch where there was a lantern hanging. "To be sure. I have seen you up
at Whitehall and at Oxford, too, and are not likely to forget His
Majesty's Groom of the Chambers. How fares it with our Royal Master?"

"Why, it stands this way, sir, as I take it," whispered the visitor.
"His Majesty must either fly the country or reach the army of the Scots,
which he has no liking for, or raise the eastern counties and risk
another battle. As it is, we have come safe out of Oxford, where Fairfax
and the arch-rebel Cromwell are closing upon the city, and the king has
ridden behind me after I had trimmed off his pointed beard, and made him
look as much like a servant as is possible to his sainted person. I left
him an hour ago after we had left Deeping, for I came on here to see if
you could receive him, not according to his rank, but as a plain guest,
with the name of Thomas Williams; for there are those about who might be
meddlesome, and His Majesty can only tarry for two or three days,
waiting for a message from the Scots generals, to be brought by a trusty
hand. I had feared that His Majesty would have overtaken me, for my
horse cast a shoe, and came limping along for a mile or more, till at
the smithy yonder by the roadside I found a farrier."

"Bring my dear friend Mr. Thomas Williams on with you," said Sir
Christopher loudly, as the door opened and a serving man came out; "he
shall be welcome for old times' sake when we were at college together,
and tell him I will not have him put up at the inn while there is a bed
and a bottle at Stolham Manor."

Now neither Sir Christopher nor this visitor, who was the King's Groom
of the Chamber, knew that the King, hearing the sound of horsemen behind
him, had ridden past and turned down a bye-road, which all the same led
him to Stolham; still less did they imagine that he was actually in the
old manor house while they were talking there in the hall; because they
had no notion of what had happened in the room where Mistress Dorothy
was twanging the lyre, and the two young cousins were footing to the
tune of Valparaiso Bay.

While the children were in the very midst of a figure and Dick was
snapping his fingers, and Cicely was making the grand _chasse_, Mistress
Dorothy, glancing up from her music towards the window, had seen a pale
face looking through the pane. She was not a woman to scream or to
faint, for she was a quiet, staid, middle-aged person of much
experience, and had lived in London, where she went to Court more than
once with Sir Christopher and her kinswoman Dame Burroughs; so she kept
on playing, and walked a little nearer to the window. The man who was
outside--for it was a man, and he had climbed the angle of the wall, and
now sat amidst the ivy close to the window-sill--beckoned to her, and as
she advanced opened the breast of his coat, and showed a great jewel
fastened with a gold chain under his vest.

Another moment, and she had unfastened the window, and he had raised
himself to the sill and come in. He was dressed like a servant,--a
groom,--for he wore high riding-boots and spurs, and had a cloak
strapped round his waist; he seemed to forget to take off his hat, but
stood still in the middle of the room, as Mistress Dorothy suddenly
knelt before him, and said in a whisper, "Children, children, kneel; it
is the King!"

Then the visitor removed his hat and showed his high, handsome face.
Dick and Cicely also fell on their knees, but the King said, "Rise,
madam; rise, little ones; and pardon my intrusion. I am travelling
secretly, and was on my way hither when I found that I was followed, and
so left my horse at the inn in the next village, and walked on. I would
not that Sir Christopher Burroughs should be summoned, for my pursuers
will ere long be at the gate, and, not finding me here, may pass."

Now Dick Burroughs was as sharp a little blade as could be found between
Stolham and Land's End, and quick as lightning he said, "But, Majesty,
if it be no offence, let Cousin Cicely and I go on with our dancing, for
there be some friends of Sir Christopher at supper, and should they or
the servants no longer hear the lute, and think that we be tired, they
may be sent to call us to bed, seeing that to-morrow will be May Day,
and we shall rise early."

"And then, Your Majesty," lisped Cicely, "if anybody break in and come
up here and see us dancing, they will go away, and you can hide behind
the hangings yonder."

"You are a bright lad, and you a loyal little lady," said Charles, with
a grave smile.

"There is a horseman coming up the road," said Dick, in a whisper. "Your
Majesty had best find a hiding-place, and I will show it you. Above this
room is the turret, and behind the hangings here is a door, where a
ladder goes straight up the wall to take you to the turret-room, from
which you can see far up and down the road. Let me go first and light
Your Majesty, and carry your cloak." Then, taking a candle from the
music stand, he began to mount the steps.

"Thou'rt a brave lad," said the King, "and I'll follow thee."

"And it shall go hard but I'll get thee some supper, your Majesty," said
Dick; "but Cis and I must keep on dancing till all the guests be
gone,--and you will see who comes and leaves,--even if it be till
daybreak, for there is a May moon shining all night."

"Now, Mistress Dorothy, now, Cis," cried Dick, when he had come down and
closed door and curtain, "music, music, for we must keep on dancing."
The dancing never ceased, but Dick stole to the buttery and found a pie
and a flagon of wine, which he carried with cup, knife, and napkin, to
the King in the turret-room, and then down to dance again, till his legs
ached and poor Cicely began to droop.

There was a knock at the door, and the stumbling of feet upon the stair,
and then the voice of Sir Christopher outside saying, "What warrant ye
have to enter this house I know not; but as you take not my word, look
for yourselves.' With that he opened the door, and two men looked into
the room.

"Dance up, Cis," whispered Dick, who gave a skip, and pretended to see
nobody. "Play a little faster, Mistress Dorothy."

"Now," said Sir Christopher, to the two fellows who stood outside,
"mayhap you will leave these children to their sport till it is time for
them to go to bed;" and with that he shut the door, and the fellows went
lumbering down the stair. It seemed to be hours afterward when Sir
Christopher again appeared. He opened the door suddenly, and he was not
alone. Dame Burroughs was with him and a strange gentleman.

"What! not in bed, you naughty rogues!" he said, as his eye fell on
Cissy, who was sitting on the floor, her head upon her hands, fast
asleep.

"Dick, lad, what ails thee?" For Dick was standing by the hangings with
the sword that he carried half-drawn from the scabbard, and great black
rings round his eyes, and his legs trembling.

"Come, Dick," said the knight, "this is His Majesty's Groom of the
Chambers, and I would that we knew where our royal master could be
found."

"Here he is," said a deep voice from behind the curtain, as the King
drew it aside and stepped into the room. The music ceased, Madame
Dorothy gave a great cry. Charles stooped and caught up Cicely from the
ground in his arms and kissed her.

"Come, sweetheart," he said, "thou hast danced for the King till thou
art half-dead, but the King will not forget thee. Richard, thou'rt a
brave lad, and thou must come and kiss me, too. If we both live, thou
shalt not repent having served Charles Stuart both with head and feet."



A MOTHER OF QUEENS.

_A ROMANCE OF HISTORY._


One day, I will not say how many years ago, a young woman stepped from a
country waggon that had just arrived at the famous Chelsea inn, "the
Goat and Compasses," a name formed by corrupting time out of the pious
original, "God encompasseth us."

The young woman seemed about eighteen years of age and was neatly
dressed, though in the plain rustic fashion of the times. She was well
formed and good-looking, both form and looks giving indications of the
ruddy health due to the bright sun and the fresh air of the country.

After stepping from the waggon, which the driver immediately led into
the court-yard, the girl stood for a moment uncertain which way to go,
when the mistress of the inn, who had come to the door, observed her
hesitation, and asked her to enter and take a rest.

The young woman readily accepted the invitation, and soon after, by the
kindness of the landlady, found herself by the fireside of a nicely
sanded parlour, with a good meal before her--welcome indeed after her
long and tedious journey.

"And so, my girl," said the landlady, after having heard the whole
particulars of the young woman's situation and history, "so thou hast
come all this way to seek service, and hast no friend but John Hodge,
the waggoner? Truly, he is like to give thee but small help, wench,
towards getting a place."

"Is service, then, difficult to be had?" asked the young woman, sadly.

"Ay, marry, good situations, at least, are somewhat hard to find. But
have a good heart, child," said the landlady, and as she continued she
looked round her with an air of pride and dignity; "thou see'st what I
have come to, myself; and I left the country a young thing, just like
thyself, with as little to look to. But 'tisn't every one, for certain,
that must look for such a fortune, and, in any case, it must first be
worked for. I showed myself a good servant before my poor old Jacob,
heaven rest his soul, made me mistress of 'the Goat and Compasses.' So
mind thee, girl----"

The landlady's speech might have continued indefinitely--for the good
dame loved well to hear the sound of her own voice--but for the
interruption occasioned by the entrance of a gentleman, whom the
landlady rose and welcomed heartily.

"Ha! dame," said the new-comer, who was a stout respectably attired man
of middle age, "how sells the good ale? Scarcely a drop left in thy
cellars, I hope?"

"Enough left to give your worship a draught after your long walk," said
the landlady, as she rose to fulfil the promise implied in her words. "I
did not walk," was the gentleman's reply, "but took a pair of oars down
the river. Thou know'st, dame, I always come to Chelsea myself to see if
thou lackest anything."

"Ay, sir," replied the landlady, "and it is by that way of doing
business that you have made yourself, as all the city says, the richest
man in the Brewers' Corporation, if not in all London itself."

"Well, dame, the better for me if it is so," said the brewer, with a
smile; "but let us have thy mug, and this pretty friend of thine shall
pleasure us, mayhap, by tasting with us."

The landlady was not long in producing a stoup of ale, knowing that her
visitor never set an example hurtful to his own interests by
countenancing the consumption of foreign spirits.

"Right, hostess," said the brewer, when he had tasted it, "well made and
well kept, and that is giving both thee and me our dues. Now, pretty
one," said he, filling one of the measures or glasses which had been
placed beside the stoup, "wilt thou drink this to thy sweetheart's
health?"

The poor country girl to whom this was addressed declined the proffer
civilly, and with a blush; but the landlady exclaimed:

"Come, silly wench, drink his worship's health; he is more likely to do
thee a service, if it so please him, than John the waggoner. The girl
has come many a mile," continued the hostess, "to seek a place in town,
that she may burden her family no more at home."

"To seek service!" exclaimed the brewer; "why, then, it is perhaps well
met with us. Has she brought a character with her, or can you speak for
her, dame?"

"She has never yet been from home, sir, but her face is her character,"
said the kind-hearted landlady; "I warrant me she will be a diligent and
trusty one."

"Upon thy prophecy, hostess, will I take her into my own service; for
but yesterday was my housekeeper complaining of the want of help, since
my office in the corporation has brought me more into the way of
entertaining the people of the ward."

Ere the wealthy brewer and deputy left "the Goat and Compasses,"
arrangements were made for sending the country girl to his house in the
city on the following day.

Proud of having done a kind action, the garrulous hostess took advantage
of the circumstance to deliver a long harangue to the young woman on her
new duties, and on the dangers to which youth is exposed in large
cities. The girl listened to her with modest thankfulness, but a more
minute observer than the good landlady might have seen in the eye and
countenance of the girl a quiet firmness of expression, such as might
have shown the lecture to be unnecessary. However, the landlady's
lecture ended, and towards the evening of the day following her arrival
at "the Goat and Compasses," the girl found herself installed as
housemaid in the home of the rich brewer.

The fortunes of this girl it is our purpose to follow. It was not long
before the post of housekeeper became vacant, and the girl, recommended
by her own industry and skill, became housekeeper in the brewer's
family. In this situation she was brought more than formerly into
contact with her master, who found ample grounds for admiring her
propriety of conduct, as well as her skilful economy of management. By
degrees he began to find her presence necessary to his happiness; and at
length offered her his hand. It was accepted; and she, who but four or
five years before had left her country home a poor peasant girl, became
the wife of one of the richest citizens of London.

For many years, Mr. Aylesbury, for such was the name of the brewer, and
his wife, lived in happiness and comfort together. He was a man of good
family and connections, and consequently of higher breeding than his
wife could boast of, but on no occasion had he ever to blush for the
partner whom he had chosen.

Her calm, inborn strength, if not dignity, of character, united with an
extreme quickness of perception, made her fill her place at her
husband's table with as much grace and credit as if she had been born to
the station. As time ran on, Mr. Aylesbury became an alderman, and,
subsequently, a sheriff of the city, and in consequence of the latter
elevation, was knighted.

Afterwards the important place which the wealthy brewer filled in the
city called down upon him the attention and favour of the king, Charles
I., then anxious to conciliate the goodwill of the citizens, and the
city knight received the farther honour of a baronetcy.

Lady Aylesbury, in the first years of her married life, gave birth to a
daughter, who proved an only child, and around whom, as was natural, all
the hopes and wishes of the parents entwined themselves. This daughter
had only reached the age of seventeen when her father died, leaving an
immense fortune behind him.

It was at first thought that the widow and her daughter would become
inheritors of this without the shadow of a dispute. But it proved
otherwise. Certain relatives of the deceased brewer set up a plea upon
the foundation of a will made in their favour before he married.

With her wonted firmness, Lady Aylesbury immediately took steps for the
vindication of her rights.

A young lawyer, who had been a frequent guest at her husband's table,
and of whose abilities she had formed a high opinion, was the person
whom she fixed upon as her legal representative. Edward Hyde was,
indeed, a youth of great ability. Though only twenty-four years of age
at the period referred to, and though he had spent much of his youthful
time in the society of the gay and fashionable of the day, he had not
neglected the pursuits to which his family's wish, as well as his own
tastes, had devoted him. But it was with considerable hesitation, and
with a feeling of anxious diffidence, that he consented to undertake the
charge of Lady Aylesbury's case; for certain feelings were at work in
his heart which made him fearful of the responsibility, and anxious
about the result.

The young lawyer, however, became counsel for the brewer's widow and
daughter, and, by a striking display of eloquence and legal knowledge,
gained their suit.

Two days afterwards, the successful pleader was seated beside his two
clients. Lady Aylesbury's usual manner was quiet and composed, but she
now spoke warmly of her gratitude to the preserver of her daughter from
want, and also tendered a fee--a payment munificent, indeed, for the
occasion.

The young barrister did not seem at ease during Lady Aylesbury's
expression of her feelings. He shifted upon his chair, changed colour,
looked to Miss Aylesbury, played with the purse before him, tried to
speak, but stopped short, and changed colour again. Thinking only of
best expressing her own gratitude, Lady Aylesbury appeared not to
observe her visitor's confusion, but rose, saying:

"In token that I hold your services above compensation in the way of
money, I wish also to give you a memorial of my gratitude in another
shape."

As she spoke thus, she drew from her pocket a bunch of keys such as
every lady carried in those days, and left the room.

What passed during her absence between the young people whom she had
left together will be shown by the sequel. When Lady Aylesbury returned,
she found her daughter standing with averted eyes, with her hand in that
of the young barrister, who knelt on the mother's entrance, and besought
her consent to their union. Confessions of mutual affection ensued, and
Lady Aylesbury was not long in giving her consent to their wishes.

"Give me leave, however," said she to the lover, "to place around your
neck the memorial which I intended for you. The chain"--it was a superb
gold one--"was a token of gratitude, from the ward in which he lived, to
my dear husband." Lady Aylesbury's calm, serious eyes were filled with
tears as she threw the chain round Edward's neck, saying, "These links
were borne on the neck of a worthy and an honoured man. May thou, my
beloved son, attain to still higher honours."

The wish was fulfilled, though not until danger and suffering had tried
severely the parties concerned. The son-in-law of Lady Aylesbury became
an eminent member of the English bar, and also an important speaker in
Parliament.

When Oliver Cromwell brought the king to the scaffold, and established
the Commonwealth, Sir Edward Hyde--for he had held a government post,
and had been knighted--was too prominent a member of the royalist party
to escape the attention of the new rulers, and was obliged to reside
upon the continent till the Restoration.

While abroad, he was so much esteemed by the exiled prince (afterwards
Charles II.) as to be appointed Lord High Chancellor of England, which
appointment was confirmed when the king was restored to his throne. Some
years afterwards, Hyde was elevated to the peerage, first in the rank of
a baron, and subsequently as Earl of Clarendon, a title which he made
famous in English history.

These events, so briefly narrated, occupied considerable time, during
which Lady Aylesbury passed her days in quiet and retirement. She had
now the gratification of beholding her daughter Countess of Clarendon,
and of seeing the grandchildren who had been born to her mingling as
equals with the noblest in the land.

But a still more exalted fate awaited the descendants of the poor
friendless girl who had come to London, in search of service, in a
waggoner's van. Her granddaughter, Anne Hyde, a young lady of spirit,
wit, and beauty, had been appointed, while her family were living
abroad, one of the maids of honour to the Princess of Orange, and in
that situation had attracted so strongly the regard of James, Duke of
York, and brother of Charles II., that he contracted a private marriage
with her.

The birth of a child forced on a public announcement of this contract,
and ere long the granddaughter of Lady Aylesbury was openly received by
the Royal Family, and the people of England, as Duchess of York, and
sister-in-law of the sovereign.

Lady Aylesbury did not long survive this event. But ere she sunk into
the grave, at a ripe old age, she saw her descendants heirs-presumptive
of the British Crown. King Charles had married, but had no children,
and, accordingly, his brother's family had the prospect and the right of
succession. And, in reality, two immediate descendants of the poor
peasant girl did ultimately fill the throne--Mary (wife of William
III.), and Queen Anne.

Such were the fortunes of the young woman whom the worthy landlady of
"the Goat and Compasses" was fearful of encouraging to rash hopes by a
reference to the lofty position it had been her good fortune to attain
in life. In one assertion, at least, the hostess was undoubtedly
right--success in life must be laboured for in some way or other.
Without the prudence and propriety of conduct which won the esteem and
love of her wealthy employer, the sequel of the country girl's history
could not have been such as it was.



THE STORY OF GRIZEL COCHRANE.

_A ROMANCE OF REAL LIFE._

BY W. R. C.


Sir John Cochrane of Ochiltree, the father of our heroine, was the
second son of the first Earl of Dundonald. He was a distinguished friend
of Sidney, Russell, and other illustrious men, who signalised themselves
in England by their opposition to the court; and he had so long
endeavoured in vain to procure some improvement in the national affairs,
that he at length began to despair of his country altogether, and formed
the design of emigrating to America. Having gone to London in 1683, with
a view to a colonising expedition to South Carolina, he became involved
in the deliberations of the Whig party, which at that time tended
towards a general insurrection in England and Scotland, for the purpose
of forcing an alteration of the royal councils and the exclusion of the
Duke of York from the throne. In furtherance of this plan, Sir John
pledged himself to assist the Earl of Argyle in raising the malcontents
in Scotland.

By the treachery of some of the subordinate agents this design was
detected prematurely; and while some were unfortunately taken and
executed, among whom were Sidney and Lord Russell, the rest fled from
the kingdom. Of the latter number were the Earl of Argyle, Sir John
Cochrane, and Sir Patrick Hume of Polwarth. The fugitives found safety
in Holland, where they remained in peace till the death of Charles II.
in February 1685, when the Duke of York, the object politically of their
greatest detestation, became king. It was then determined to invade
Scotland with a small force, to embody the Highland adherents of Argyle
with the west country Presbyterians, and, marching into England, to
raise the people as they moved along, and not rest till they had
produced the desired melioration of the state. The expedition sailed in
May; but the Government was enabled to take such precautions as, from
the very first, proved a complete frustration to their designs. Argyle
lingered timidly in his own country, and, finally, against the advice of
Cochrane and Hume, who were his chief officers, made some unfortunate
movements, which ended in the entire dissolution of his army, and his
own capture and death. While this well-meaning but weak nobleman
committed himself to a low disguise, in the vain hope of effecting his
escape, Sir John Cochrane, after a gallant fight against overwhelming
numbers, finding his enemies were gathering large reinforcements,
retired with his troops to a neighbouring wilderness or morass, where he
dismissed them, with the request that each man would provide the best
way he could for his own safety. For himself, having received two severe
wounds in the body during the engagement, and being worn out with
fatigue, he sought refuge in the house of his uncle, Mr. Gavin Cochrane
of Craigmuir, who lived at no great distance from the place of
encounter. Here he was seized and removed to Edinburgh, where, after
being paraded through the streets bound and bare-headed, and conducted
by the common hangman, he was lodged in the tollbooth on July 3rd, 1685,
there to await his trial as a traitor. The day of trial came, and he was
condemned to death, in spite of the most strenuous exertions of his aged
father, Earl of Dundonald.

No friend or relative had been permitted to see him from the time of his
apprehension; but it was now signified to him that any of his family he
desired to communicate with might be allowed to visit him. Anxious,
however, to deprive his enemies of an opportunity of an accusation
against his sons, he immediately conveyed to them his earnest
entreaties, and indeed commands, that they should refrain from availing
themselves of this leave till the night before his execution. This was a
sacrifice which it required his utmost fortitude to make; and it had
left him to a sense of the most desolate loneliness, insomuch that,
when, late in the evening, he heard his prison door unlocked, he lifted
not his eyes toward it, imagining that the person who entered could only
be the gaoler, who was particularly repulsive in his countenance and
manner. What, then, was his surprise and momentary delight when he
beheld before him his only daughter, and felt her arms entwining his
neck! After the first transport of greeting she became sensible that, in
order to palliate his misery, she must put a strong curb upon her own,
and in a short time was calm enough to enter into conversation with her
father upon the subject of his present situation, and to deliver a
message from the old earl, her grandfather, by which he was informed
that an appeal had been made from him to the king, and means taken to
propitiate Father Peters, his Majesty's confessor, who, it was well
known, often dictated to him in matters of state. It appeared evident,
however, by the turn which their discourse presently took, that neither
father nor daughter were at all sanguine in their hopes from this
negotiation. The Earl of Argyle had been executed but a few days before,
as had also several of his principal adherents, though men of less
consequence than Sir John Cochrane; and it was therefore improbable that
he, who had been so conspicuously active in the insurrection, should be
allowed to escape the punishment which his enemies had it now in their
power to inflict. Besides all this, the treaty to be entered into with
Father Peters would require some time to adjust, and meanwhile the
arrival of the warrant for execution must every day be looked for.

Under these circumstances, several days passed, each of which found Miss
Grizel Cochrane an inmate of her father's prison for as many hours as
she was permitted. Grizel Cochrane was only at that period eighteen
years old; she had, however, a natural strength of character, that
rendered her capable of a deed which has caused her history to vie with
that of the most distinguished of heroines.

Ever since her father's condemnation, her daily and nightly thoughts had
dwelt on the fear of her grandfather's communication with the king's
confessor being rendered unavailable for want of the time necessary for
enabling the friends in London to whom it was trusted, to make their
application, and she boldly determined to execute a plan, whereby the
arrival of the death-warrant would be retarded.

At that time horses were used as a mode of conveyance so much more than
carriages that almost every gentlewoman had her own steed, and Miss
Cochrane, being a skilful rider, was possessed of a well-managed
palfrey, on whose speed and other good qualities she had been accustomed
to depend. One morning after she had bidden her father farewell, long
ere the inhabitants of Edinburgh were astir, she found herself many
miles on the road to the borders. She had taken care to attire herself
in a manner which corresponded with the design of passing herself off
for a young serving-woman journeying on a borrowed horse to the house of
her mother in a distant part of the country; and by only resting at
solitary cottages, where she generally found the family out at work,
save perhaps an old woman or some children, she had the good fortune, on
the second day after leaving Edinburgh, to reach in safety the abode of
her old nurse, who lived on the English side of the Tweed, four miles
beyond the town of Berwick. In this woman she knew she could place
implicit confidence, and to her, therefore, revealed her secret. She had
resolved, she said, to make an attempt to save her father's life, by
stopping the postman, an equestrian like herself, and forcing him to
deliver up his bags, in which she expected to find the fatal warrant. In
pursuance of this design she had brought with her a brace of small
pistols, together with a horseman's cloak, tied up in a bundle, and hung
on the crutch of her saddle, and now borrowed from her nurse the attire
of her foster-brother, which, as he was a slight-made lad, fitted her
reasonably well.

She had, by means which it is unnecessary here to detail, possessed
herself of the most minute information with regard to the places at
which the postmen rested on their journey, one of which was a small
public-house, kept by a widow woman, on the outskirts of the little town
of Belford. There the man who received the bag at Durham was accustomed
to arrive about six o'clock in the morning, and take a few hours' repose
before proceeding farther on his journey. In pursuance of the plan laid
down by Miss Cochrane, she arrived at this inn about an hour after the
man had composed himself to sleep, in the hope of being able, by the
exercise of her wit and dexterity, to ease him of his charge.

Having put her horse into the stable, which was a duty that devolved on
the guests at this little change-house, from its mistress having no
ostler, she entered the only apartment which the house afforded, and
demanded some refreshment. "Sit down at the end of that table," said the
old woman, "for the best I have to give you is there already; and be
pleased, my bonny man, to make as little noise as ye can, for there's
ane asleep in that bed that I like ill to disturb." Miss Cochrane
promised fairly; and after attempting to eat some of the viands, which
were the remains of the sleeping man's meal, she asked for some cold
water. "What," said the old dame, as she handed it to her, "ye are a
water-drinker, are ye? It's but an ill custom for a change-house." "I am
aware of that," replied her guest, "and, therefore, when in a public
house, always pay for it the price of the stronger potation, which I
cannot take." "Indeed--well, that is but just," responded the dame, "and
I think the more of you for such reasonable conduct." "Is the well where
you get this water near at hand?" said the young lady; "for if you will
take the trouble to bring me some from it, as this is rather warm, it
shall be considered in the lawing." "It is a good bit off," said the
woman; "but I cannot refuse to fetch some for such a civil, discreet
lad, and will be as quick as I can. But, for any sake, take care and
don't meddle with these pistols," she continued, pointing to a pair of
pistols on the table, "for they are loaded, and I am always terrified
for them." Saying this, she disappeared; and Miss Cochrane, who would
have contrived some other errand for her had the well been near, no
sooner saw the door shut than she passed, with trembling eagerness, and
a cautious but rapid step, across the floor to the place where the man
lay soundly sleeping in one of those close wooden bedsteads common in
the houses of the poor, the door of which was left half open to admit
the air, and which she opened still wider, in the hope of seeing the
mail-bag and being able to seize upon it. But what was her dismay when
she beheld only a part of the integument which contained what she would
have sacrificed her life a thousand times to obtain just peeping out
from below the shaggy head and brawny shoulders of its keeper, who lay
in such a position upon it as to give not the smallest hope of its
extraction without his being aroused from his nap. A few moments of
observation served to convince her that, if she obtained possession of
this treasure, it must be in some other way, and again closing the door
of the bed, she approached the pistols, and having taken them one by one
from the holsters she as quickly as possible drew out their loading,
which, having secreted, she returned them to their cases, and resumed
her seat at the foot of the table. Here she had barely time to recover
from the agitation into which the fear of the man's awaking during her
recent occupation had thrown her, when the old woman returned with the
water, and having taken a draught, of which she stood much in need, she
settled her account, much to her landlady's content, by paying for the
water the price of a pot of beer. Having then carelessly asked and
ascertained how much longer the other guest was likely to continue his
sleep, she left the house, and mounting her horse, set off at a trot, in
a different direction from that in which she had arrived. Fetching a
compass of two or three miles, she once more fell into the high road
between Belford and Berwick, where she walked her horse gently on,
awaiting the coming up of the postman. On his coming close up, she
civilly saluted him, put her horse into the same pace with his, and rode
on for some way in his company. He was a strong, thick-set fellow, with
a good-humoured countenance, which did not seem to Miss Cochrane, as she
looked anxiously upon it, to savour much of hardy daring. He rode with
the mail-bags strapped firmly to his saddle in front, close to the
holsters (for there were two), one containing the letters direct from
London, and the other those taken up at the different post-offices on
the road. After riding a short distance together, Miss Cochrane deemed
it time, as they were nearly half-way between Belford and Berwick, to
commence her operations. She therefore rode nearly close to her
companion, and said, in a tone of determination, "Friend, I have taken a
fancy for those mail-bags of yours, and I must have them; therefore take
my advice, and deliver them up quietly, for I am provided for all
hazards. I am mounted, as you see, on a fleet steed; I carry firearms;
and, moreover, am allied with those who are stronger, though not bolder
than myself. You see yonder wood," she continued, pointing to one at the
distance of about a mile, with an accent and air which was meant to
carry intimidation with it. "Again, I say, take my advice; give me the
bags, and speed back the road you came for the present, nor dare to
approach that wood for at least two or three hours to come."

There was in such language from a stripling something so surprising that
the man looked on Miss Cochrane for an instant in silent and unfeigned
amazement. "If," said he, as soon as he found his tongue, "you mean, my
young master, to make yourself merry at my expense, you are welcome. I
am no sour churl to take offence at the idle words of a foolish boy. But
if," he said, taking one of his pistols from the holster, and turning
its muzzle toward her, "ye are mad enough to harbour one serious thought
of such a matter, I am ready for you. But, methinks, my lad, you seem at
an age when robbing a garden or an old woman's fruit-stall would befit
you better, if you must turn thief, than taking his Majesty's mails from
a stout man such as I am upon his highway. Be thankful, however, that
you have met with one who will not shed blood if he can help it, and
sheer off before you provoke me to fire."

"Nay," said his young antagonist, "I am not fonder of bloodshed than you
are; but if you will not be persuaded, what can I do? for I have told
you a truth, _that mail I must and will have_. So now choose," she
continued, as she drew one of the small pistols from under her cloak,
and deliberately cocking it, presented it in his face.

"Nay, then, your blood be on your own head," said the fellow, as he
raised his hand, and fired his pistol, which, however, only flashed in
the pan. Dashing this weapon to the ground, he lost not a moment in
pulling out the other, which he also aimed at his assailant, and fired
with the same result. In a transport of rage and disappointment the man
sprang from his horse and made an attempt to seize her; but, by an
adroit use of her spurs, she eluded his grasp and placed herself out of
his reach. Meanwhile, his horse had moved forward some yards, and to see
and seize the advantage presented by this circumstance was one and the
same to the heroic girl, who, darting toward it, caught the bridle, and
having led her prize off about a hundred yards, stopped while she called
to the thunderstruck postman to remind him of her advice about the wood.
She then put both horses to their speed, and on turning to look at the
man she had robbed, had the pleasure of perceiving that her mysterious
threat had taken effect, and he was now pursuing his way back to
Belford.

Miss Cochrane speedily entered the wood to which she had alluded, and
tying the strange horse to a tree, out of all observation from the road,
proceeded to unfasten the straps of the mail. By means of a sharp
penknife, which set at defiance the appended locks, she was soon
mistress of the contents, and with an eager hand broke open the
Government despatches, which were unerringly pointed out to her by their
address to the council in Edinburgh and their imposing weight and broad
seals of office. Here she found not only the fatal warrant for her
father's death, but also many other sentences inflicting different
degrees of punishment on various delinquents. These, however, it may
readily be supposed, she did not then stop to examine; she contented
herself with tearing them into small fragments and placing them
carefully in her bosom.

The intrepid girl now mounted her steed and rode off, leaving all the
private papers where she had found them, imagining (what eventually
proved the case) that they would be discovered ere long from the hints
she had thrown out about the wood, and thus reach their proper places of
destination. She now made all haste to reach the cottage of her nurse,
where, having not only committed to the flames the fragments of the
dreaded warrant, but also the other obnoxious papers, she quickly
resumed her female garments, and was again, after this manly and daring
action, the simple and unassuming Miss Grizel Cochrane. Leaving the
cloak and pistols behind her, to be concealed by her nurse, she again
mounted her horse and directed her flight towards Edinburgh, and, by
avoiding as much as possible the high road, and resting at sequestered
cottages, as she had done before, and that only twice for a couple of
hours each time, she reached town early in the morning of the next day.

It must now suffice to say that the time gained by the heroic act
related above was productive of the end for which it was undertaken, and
that Sir John Cochrane was pardoned, at the instigation of the king's
favourite counsellor, who interceded for him in consequence of receiving
a bribe of five thousand pounds from the Earl of Dundonald.



A WIFE'S STRATAGEM.

_A TALE OF 1715._

BY LUCY HARDY.


It was with mingled feelings of annoyance and satisfaction that old Lady
Glenlivet and her daughters received the intelligence that the only son
of the house was about to bring an English bride to the grey old Scotch
mansion where so many generations of his "forbears" had lived and died.

Sir Alick was six-and-twenty, and it was therefore fully time that he
should marry and carry on the traditions of the house, and, as the
Glenlivet's fortune did not match their "long pedigree," it was
distinctly an advantage that the newly-wedded bride was so well dowered.
But then, on the other hand, Mistress Mary Wilkinson was an
Englishwoman, and Lady Glenlivet more than suspected the fact (adroitly
veiled in her son's letter) that the young lady's fortune had been made
in trade.

Sir Alick Glenlivet, visiting London for the first time in his life, had
been hospitably entertained by a distant kinsman, a Scotch lawyer, who
had settled in the English metropolis; and at his house had met with the
orphan heiress of a substantial city trader, to whom Simon Glenlivet was
guardian. To Alick, bred up in the comparative seclusion and obscurity
of his Scottish home, the plunge into London life was as bewildering as
delightful; and he soon thought sweet Mary Wilkinson, with her soft blue
eyes and gentle voice, the fairest creature his eyes had ever rested
upon; while to Mary, the handsome young Scotchman was like the hero in a
Border tale.

"Happy the wooing that's not long a-doing." Mistress Mary was
twenty-two, so of legal age to please herself in her choice of a
husband; while Simon Glenlivet was still sufficiently a Scotchman at
heart to consider an alliance with the "ancient and noble family" with
which he himself claimed kinship an advantage which might fairly
outbalance his lack of fortune.

To do the young man justice, Mary's wealth counted for nothing in his
choice; he would as readily have married her had the fortune been all on
his side. Indeed, it was with some qualms of conscience that Sir Alick
now wrote to inform his mother of the sudden step which he had taken;
half fearing that, in the eyes of the proud old Scotch dame, even Mary's
beauty and fortune could scarcely compensate for her lack of "long
descent."

And indeed, Lady Glenlivet's Highland pride was not at all well pleased
to learn that her son had wedded a trader's daughter; though Mary (or
Maisie, as her husband now called her) had received the education of a
refined gentlewoman, and was far more well bred and accomplished than
were the two tall, awkward daughters of the Glenlivet household; or, for
the matter of that, than was the "auld leddy hersel'."

Lady Glenlivet, however, loved her son, and stifled down her feelings of
disapproval for his sake. It was undeniable that Mary's money came in
most usefully in paying off the mortgages which had so long crippled the
Glenlivet estate; and when the bride and bridegroom arrived at their
Scotch home, the ladies were speechless in their admiration at the
bride's "providing." Such marvels of lace and brocades, such treasures
of jewellery, such a display of new fashions had never been known in the
neighbourhood before; and Isobel and Barbara, if not inclined to fall
rapturously in love with their new sister, at least utterly lost their
hearts over her wardrobe--not such a very extensive or extravagant one
after all, the bride had thought; but, in the eighteenth century, a
wealthy London trader's only child would be reared in a far more
luxurious manner than the daughters of many a "long descended" Scotch
household.

Mary, or Maisie, certainly found her new home lacking in many comforts
which were almost necessaries in her eyes; but the girl was young, and
sweet-tempered, and devotedly attached to her brave young husband, who
equally adored his young wife. The prejudice excited against the
new-comer on the score of her nationality and social rank softened down
as the months went by; although old Lady Glenlivet often remarked that
Maisie was "just English" whenever the younger lady's opinions or wishes
did not entirely coincide with her own.

In the kindly patriarchial fashion of Scottish households of the day,
Sir Alick's mother and sisters still resided under his roof; and Maisie,
gentle and retiring by nature, never dreamt of attempting to depose the
old lady from her position of house-mistress; so the "auld leddy" still
kept the keys, and ruled the servants, and was as busy and notable as of
yore; her new daughter being, in truth, often far more submissive to the
good dame's sway than were either Isobel or Barbara, who occasionally
"took the dorts" and would have their own wills.

Yet Maisie was happy enough in her new life--for had she not Alick and
his devotion?--until dark clouds began to gather in the political
horizon.

It was the year 1715, a year to be remembered in many an English and
Scottish household for many a year to come. Whispers of plots and
conspiracies were flying about the land; for the coming of the "wee
German lairdie" was by no means universally acceptable, and many
Jacobites who had acquiesced in the accession of "good Queen Anne"
herself (a member of the ancient royal house), now shrank from
acknowledging "the Elector" as their monarch. Simon Glenlivet, a shrewd
and prudent man, who had lived in London and watched the course of
political events, had long ago laid aside any romantic enthusiasm for
the cause of the exiled Stuarts, if he had ever possessed such a
feeling; realising perhaps the truth of Sir John Maynard's reply to
William III. when the king asked the old man if he had not survived
"all his brother lawyers," "Ay, and if your Majesty had not come, I
might shortly _have survived the law itself_."

Maisie's father, like most of his brother-citizens, had welcomed the
"Deliverer" with acclamations, and would doubtless have greeted the
accession of George I. with equal enthusiasm had he lived to witness it.
It was only after she crossed the Border that Maisie had heard the son
of James II. alluded to save as the "Pretender," to whom his enemies
denied any kinship with the Stuarts at all. Maisie, wise and discreet
beyond her years, speedily learnt to stifle her own political opinions
amid her husband's family circle; though indeed she was no eager
supporter of any party. She had been duly taught that it was a duty to
submit to the "powers that be," and to pray daily for the king; and like
a dutiful little maiden of her time, piously obeyed her teacher's and
guardian's injunctions, without troubling her head as to whether the
actual lawful monarch of England was keeping his court at St. Germains
or St. James'. And Maisie's husband, to tell the truth, was scarcely a
more vehement or interested politician than herself; though Sir Alick
called himself a Jacobite because his father and mother had been
Jacobites before him. Lady Glenlivet, a woman of narrow education and
deeply rooted prejudices, was a strong partisan of the Stuart cause;
strong with all the unreasoning vehemence of a worthy but ignorant
woman. So, when the Earl of Mar's disastrous expedition was being
secretly organised, the emissaries of the plotters found ready
acceptance with the "auld leddy," who scrupled not to press and urge her
son to join the "glorious undertaking" which should restore her lawful
king to Scotland and bring added honours and lands to the Glenlivet
family. Sir Alick, supremely happy in his domestic life, had at first
small desire for embarking in the hazardous scheme of the wisdom and
justice of which he felt less positively assured than did his mother.
Sir Alick had seen something of the world during his visit to London,
and had not been entirely uninfluenced by the views of his wise
kinsman. But Lady Glenlivet was not the only foolish woman at that epoch
who forced a wiser judging husband, son, or brother into joining a
conspiracy which his better sense condemned; and Sir Alick, always
greatly under his mother's influence, at length consented to attend that
historic meeting at Braemar in the autumn of 1715, where, under pretence
of a hunting party, the Earl of Mar assembled the disaffected Scottish
nobility and gentry, and raised the Stuart standard, proclaiming King
James III. of England and VII. of Scotland.

The "fiery cross" was circulated through the Highlands, and Sir Alick
returned to his home to raise a troop of his own tenants and clansmen,
at whose head he proposed to join the Earl of Mar.

Maisie, ordinarily so gentle and retiring, was now roused to unwonted
and passionate protest. The scheme for the threatened "rising" was not
unknown in England; and Simon Glenlivet wrote to his quondam ward,
urging her most strongly to dissuade her husband from joining a rash
conspiracy which could only bring ruin upon all who were engaged in it.

"'Tis hopeless--and I thank Heaven that it is so--to think of
overturning the present condition of things," wrote the cautious London
Scot; "and they who take part in this mad conspiracy--of which the
English Government have fuller details than the conspirators wot
of--will but lose their lands, and it may be their heads to boot. I pray
thee, my pretty Molly, keep thy husband out of this snare."

But this command was not so easily followed. Since his visit to Braemar,
Alick himself had caught the war fever, and, for once, his wife's
entreaties, nay, even her tears and prayers, were disregarded by her
husband! Sir Alick was all love and tenderness, but join the glorious
expedition he must and would, encouraged in this resolve by mother,
sister, and kinsfolk; Maisie's being the only dissenting voice; and, as
Lady Glenlivet tauntingly remarked to her daughter-in-law, "it was not
for the child of a mere English pock-pudding to decide what was fitting
conduct for a Highland noble--Maisie should remember she had wedded into
an honourable house, and not strive to draw her husband aside from the
path of duty."

Unheeded by her husband, derided and taunted by his mother, Maisie could
but weep in silent despair.

And so the day of parting came, and Alick, looking splendidly handsome
in his military attire, stood to take his last farewell of wife and
kindred, and to drink a parting cup to the success of the expedition.

"Fill me the quaick, Maisie," he said, with a kindly smile turning to
his pale and heavy-eyed young wife. "Ye'll soon see me come back again
to bid ye all put on your braws to grace the king's coronation at
Edinburgh." To which hope Lady Glenlivet piously cried "Amen"; and
Maisie turned to mix the stirrup cup, for the morning was raw and cold.

"Let Isobel lift the kettle, lass; it's far too heavy for thee," cried
Lady Glenlivet; but alas! too late, for Maisie stumbled as she turned
from the fire, and the chief part of the scalding water was emptied into
one of the young man's long riding boots.

Alick's sudden yell of pain almost drowned Maisie's sobbing cry, and old
Lady Glenlivet furiously exclaimed, forgetful of all courtesies,--

"Ye wretched gawk! ye little fule! ye ha' killed my puir lad!"

"Nay, nay, na sae bad as that, I judge. Dinna greet, Maisie, my bonnie
bird--ye couldna help it, my dow," cried Alick, recovering himself, and
making a heroic effort to conceal the pain he felt. "Look to her, some
of ye," he added sharply, as Maisie sank fainting on the floor.

It was a very severe scald, said the doctor whom the alarmed household
quickly summoned, and it would be many a long day before Sir Alick would
be fit to wear his boot or put foot in saddle again.

But thanks greatly to the devoted nursing he received from wife and
mother, and to his own youth and health, Sir Alick completely recovered
from the injury. But in the meantime, the bubble had burst, Sherrifmuir
had been fought, Mar's army had been totally routed, the prisons in
England and Scotland had been filled with his misguided followers, and
the headsman and the hangman were beginning their ghastly work.

Sir Alick, thanks to the accident which had prevented his taking any
overt part in the rebellion, had escaped both imprisonment and
confiscation; and it was probably Simon Glenlivet's influence which had
availed to cover over Sir Alick's dalliance with the Jacobite plotters.

Maisie had proved herself a most tender and efficient nurse, but it was
now her turn to be ill, and one quiet day, after she had presented her
lord with an heir to the Glenlivet name, she told him the whole truth
about that lucky accident with the boiling water; but auld Leddy
Glenlivet never knew that her son had been saved from a rebel's fate by
a wife's stratagem.



THE KING'S TRAGEDY.

_AN HISTORICAL TALE._

BY ALFRED H. MILES.


In the year 1436, a party of horsemen, weary and belated, were seen
hurrying amid the deepening darkness of a December day towards the ferry
of the Firth of Forth. Their high carriage, no less than the quality of
their accoutrements, albeit dimmed and travel-stained by the splash of
flood and field, showed them to be more than a mere party of traders
seeking safety in numbers, and travelling in pursuit of gain. In the
centre of the group rode a horseman, whose aspect and demeanour marked
him as the chief, if not the leader, of the band; and by his side a
lady, whose grace and beauty could not be altogether concealed by the
closeness of her attire or the darkness of the night. These were the
King and Queen of Scotland, James the First and his fair wife Joan,
surrounded by a small band of faithful followers, bound for the
monastery of the Black Friars of Perth to hold Christmas Carnival.

The weather and the day were wild enough, and these but only too truly
reflected the surging passions of human hearts. The brave young king's
desire to put down the marauding practices of his Highland subjects, and
bring about a condition of things under which a "key" should be
sufficient keep for a "castle," and a "bracken bush" enough protection
for a "cow," together with, perhaps, a not always wise way of working so
good a cause, had provoked the hostility of some of the Highland chiefs
who lived by stealing their neighbours' property. This disaffection
became formidable under the leadership of Sir Richard Graeme, brother
of the Earl of Stratherne, whose earldom had been confiscated by the
king, who feared its power with perhaps less justice than became his
high purpose, and James and his retainers had need to watch and ward
against open enemies and secret foes.

Silently, if not mournfully, the little band moved on, picking its way
along the uneven shore, and peering anxiously through the deepening
shadows for signs of the distant ferry. Like a cavalcade of ghosts, but
dimly seen as dimly seeing, they pressed on, all eyes for what light
might give them guidance, all ears for what sound might give them
warning.

As they were descending to the beach, at the point where the ferry
crossed the water, sight and sound combined to startle if not to terrify
them; for out from behind a pile of rocks there sprang a wild, weird
woman, who with waving arms and frantic shouts motioned them to go back.
In an instant the whole cavalcade was in confusion. The horses reared
and plunged, the men shouted and demanded who was there, and all the
while the weird figure, whose tattered garments fluttered fantastically
in the wind, waved her skinny arms wildly, and shouted, "Go back!"

Thinking that the woman might have some news of importance to the king,
some of the retainers spurred forward and interrogated her; but she
would say them nothing but "Go back"; adding at last "For the king
alone--for the king alone!" Judging that she might desire to warn him of
some treachery, even among his followers, the king rode forward and
spoke to her, when, waving her hands towards the water, she screamed,
"If once you cross that water, you will never return alive!" The king
asked for news, but the old witch was not a chronicler but a prophetess,
and catching at the king's rein she sought to turn him back.

By this time the retinue had closed in upon the singular pair, and the
queen's anxiety doubtless stimulated the king's action. Shaking from his
rein the woman's hand, he cried, "Forward!" and in a few moments the
party had left the stormy land for the scarce more stormy sea.

After crossing the Firth of Forth the party made rapid progress, and in
due course were safely and comfortably housed in the old monastery of
the Dominicans of Perth. The gaieties of Court and Carnival soon
obliterated, for a time at least, the memory of the discomforts of the
journey; and the warning of the old witch, if remembered at all, was
thought of with pity or dismissed with mirth. The festivities, which
were maintained with vigour and brilliance for a considerable time,
surrounded the king with both friends and foes. Sir Robert Stuart, who
had been promised the kingdom by Sir Richard Graeme, was actually acting
as chamberlain to the king he was plotting to dethrone; and the Earl of
Athole and other conspirators were among the guests who, with loyal
protestations, pledged the king's health and prosperity. Towards the
close of the Carnival, when the month of February 1437 had almost waned
to a close, while the rain beat upon the windows and the wind whistled
wildly around the roof of the old monastery, in grim contrast with the
scene of merriment that graced the halls within, the guests were
startled by a loud knocking at the outer door. The king, gayest among
the gay, was singing "The King's Quhair," a ballad of his own writing,
when the usher interrupted him to announce the old witch of the Firth of
Forth. She says "she must have speech with you," said the usher, and
that her words "admit of no delay." But James was annoyed by the
interruption, and, as it was midnight, ordered her to be sent away,
promising to see her on the morrow. Driven forth at the king's command,
the old beldame wrung her hands, and cried, "Woe! woe! To-morrow I shall
not see his face!" and the usher, upon the king's interrogation,
repeated her words to him and to the queen. Upon hearing them, both were
filled with anxiety and fear, and thinking it best to close the
festivities of the evening the king gave the signal for the finish of
the feast, and the guests slowly separated and left the hall. The king's
chamberlain was the last to leave, and his errand was one of treachery.

During the day the conspirators had been busily preparing for their
opportunity. The locks of the hall had been tampered with so that their
keys were of no avail. The bars by which the gates were barricaded were
removed from their accustomed place. Planks had been surreptitiously
placed across the moat that the enemy might obtain easy access to the
stronghold; and Sir Richard Graeme, with three hundred followers in his
train, was waiting for the signal to advance.

James and his wife stood hand in hand before the log fire of the great
hall, while the bower-maidens of the queen prepared the royal bed in an
alcove leading from the chamber. The old crone's warning had struck
terror to the queen's heart, and unnerved the courage of the king. While
looking anxiously at the burning logs in the fireplace, again they heard
the voice of the witch, inarticulate in its frenzy, uttering a wild,
wailing scream. In an instant the waiting-women had drawn back the
curtains, and the red glow of a hundred torches flashed upon the walls
of the Hall. The king looked round for a weapon, but there was none to
be found; he shouted to the women to shut the bolts, but the bolts had
been removed; he tried the windows, they were fast and barred; and then,
hearing the approach of his enemies along the passage, he stood with
folded arms in the centre of the Hall to wait for death.

Beneath the Hall lay the unused and forgotten vaults of the monastery;
and in the king's extremity it occurred to Catherine Douglas, one of the
waiting-women, that these might give the king a chance of escape. There
was not a moment to lose, so, seizing the heavy tongs from the
fireplace, she forced them into the king's hand, and motioned him to
remove the flooring and hide in the crypt below. Spurred to desperation
the king seized the tongs, and proceeded to force up the flooring of the
hall; but the sound of his approaching enemies came nearer and nearer,
and the flooring was strong and tough. To give time the women made a
desperate attempt to pull a heavy table in front of the door, but it was
heavier than they could move. In another moment the floor had given way,
and, with a hurried embrace, the king squeezed through the flooring and
dropped into the vault. Then came the replacing of the boards--could
they possibly do it in the time? A clash of arms in the passage showed
that at least one sentinel was true; but the arm of one was but a poor
barrier against so large a force. Another moment and the flooring would
give no evidence of the secret that it held, for the queen and her
bower-maidens were replacing it with all speed. Again the tread of the
approaching conspirators; the sentinel has paid for his fidelity with
death. Is there no arm can save?

At this moment, as with a flash of inspiration, the thought came into
her mind. Catherine Douglas, one of the bower-maidens, rushed forward
and thrust her arm through the staple of the removed bolt, and for a
little while a woman's arm held a hundred men at bay.

It was a terrible moment, and as the poor bruised arm gave way at last
Catherine Douglas fell fainting to the floor.

Sir Richard Graeme and his followers, having forced an entrance, made
hot and eager search, but without avail. One of them placed his dagger
at the queen's breast and demanded to know where the king was, and would
have killed her had not the young Graeme caught back his arm and said,
"She is a woman; we seek the king." At last, tired by their fruitless
search, they left the Hall, and then, unfortunately, the king requested
the women to draw him up from the vault again. This they attempted to
do, with ropes made from the sheets from the bed, but they were not
strong enough, and one of them, a sister of Catherine Douglas, was
pulled down into the vault below. Attracted by the noise of this
attempt, the conspirators returned, and the traitor chamberlain revealed
the secret of the hidden vaults. In a few moments all was over,--the
flooring was torn up, and, more like wild beasts than men, one after
another the king's enemies dropped into the vault, attacking him,
unarmed as he was, and killing him with many wounds. How the queen
ultimately revenged herself upon the king's assassins is matter of
history; but the story is chiefly interesting for its record of the
heroic devotion of Catherine Douglas, who was renamed Kate Barlas, from
the circumstances of her chivalry, by which name her descendants are
known to this day.



THE STRANGER.

_A ROMANCE OF REAL LIFE._

BY H. G. BELL.


Hodnet is a village in Shropshire. Like all other villages in
Shropshire, or anywhere else, it consists principally of one long
street, with a good number of detached houses scattered here and there
in its vicinity. The street is on a slight declivity, on the sunny side
of what in England they call a hill. It contains the shops of three
butchers, five grocers, two bakers, and one apothecary. On the right
hand, as you go south, is that very excellent inn, the Blue Boar; and on
the left, nearly opposite, is the public hall, in which all sorts of
meetings are held, and which is alternately converted into a
dancing-school, a theatre, a ball-room, an auction-room, an
exhibition-room, or any other kind of room that may be wanted. The
church is a little farther off, and the parsonage is, as usual, a white
house surrounded with trees, at one end of the village. Hodnet is,
moreover, the market-town of the shire, and stands in rather a populous
district; so that, though of small dimensions itself, it is the
rallying-place, on any extraordinary occasion, of a pretty numerous
population.

One evening in February, the mail from London stopped at the Blue Boar,
and a gentleman wrapped in a travelling cloak came out. The guard handed
him a small portmanteau, and the mail drove on. The stranger entered the
inn, was shown into a parlour, and desired that the landlord and a
bottle of wine should be sent to him. The order was speedily obeyed; the
wine was set upon the table, and Gilbert Cherryripe himself was the
person who set it there. Gilbert next proceeded to rouse the slumbering
fire, remarking, with a sort of comfortable look and tone, that it was a
cold, raw night. His guest assented with a nod. "You call this village
Hodnet, do you not?" said he inquiringly. "Yes, sir, this is the town of
Hodnet" (Mr. Cherryripe did not like the term village), "and a prettier
little place is not to be found in England." "So I have heard; and as
you are not upon any of the great roads, I believe you have the
reputation of being a primitive and unsophisticated race." "Privitive
and sofiscated, did you say, sir? Why, as to that I cannot exactly
speak; but, if there is no harm in it, I daresay we are. But you see,
sir, I am a vintner, and don't trouble my head much about these
matters." "So much the better," said the stranger, smiling. "You and I
shall become better friends; I may stay with you for some weeks, perhaps
months. In the meantime, get me something comfortable for supper, and
desire your wife to look after my bedroom."

Next day was Sunday. The bells of the village church had just finished
ringing when the stranger walked up the aisle and entered, as if at
random, a pew which happened to be vacant. Instantly every eye was
turned towards him, for a new face was too important an object in Hodnet
to be left unnoticed. "Who is he?" "When did he come?" "With whom does
he stay?" "How long will he be here?" "How old may he be?" "Do you think
he is handsome?" These and a thousand other questions flew about in
whispers from tongue to tongue, whilst the unconscious object of all
this interest cast his eyes calmly, and yet penetratingly, over the
congregation. Nor was it altogether to be wondered at that his
appearance had caused a sensation among the good people of Hodnet, for
he was not the kind of person whom one meets with every day. There was
something both in his face and figure that distinguished him from the
crowd. You could not look upon him once and then turn away with
indifference. When the service was over our hero walked out alone, and
shut himself up for the rest of the day in his parlour at the Blue
Boar. But speculation was busily at work, and at more than one tea-table
that evening in Hodnet conjectures were poured out with the tea and
swallowed with the toast.

A few days elapsed and the stranger was almost forgotten; for there was
to be a subscription assembly in Hodnet, which engrossed entirely the
minds of all. It was one of the most important events that had happened
for at least a century. At length the great, the important night
arrived. The three professional fiddlers of the village were elevated on
a table at one end of the hall, and everybody pronounced it the very
model of an orchestra. The candles were tastefully arranged and
regularly snuffed. The floor was admirably chalked by a travelling
sign-painter, engaged for the purpose; and the refreshments in an
adjoining room, consisting of negus, apples, oranges, cold roast-beef,
and biscuits, were under the immediate superintendence of our very
excellent friend, Mr. Gilbert Cherryripe. At nine o'clock, which was
considered a fashionable hour, the hall was nearly full, and the first
country dance was commenced by the eldest son and presumptive heir of
old Squire Thoroughbred, who conducted gracefully through its mazes the
chosen divinity of his heart, Miss Wilhelmina Bouncer, only daughter of
Tobias Bouncer, Esq., Justice of Peace in the county of Shropshire.

Enjoyment was at its height, and the three professional fiddlers had put
a spirit of life into all things, when suddenly one might perceive that
the merriment was for a moment checked, whilst a more than usual bustle
pervaded the room. The stranger had entered it; and there was something
so different in his looks and manner from those of any of the other male
creatures, that everybody surveyed him with renewed curiosity, which was
at first slightly tinctured with awe. "Who can he be?" was the question
that instantaneously started up like a crocus in many a throbbing bosom.
"He knows nobody, and nobody knows him; surely he will never think of
asking anybody to dance."

For a long time the stranger stood aloof from the dancers in a corner by
himself.

At length, something like a change seemed to come over the spirit of his
dreams. His eye fell on Emily Sommers, and appeared to rest where it
fell with no small degree of pleasure. No wonder. Emily was not what is
generally styled beautiful; but there was a sweetness, a modesty, a
gentleness about her, that charmed the more the longer it was observed.
She was the only child of a widowed mother. Her father had died many a
year ago in battle; and the pension of an officer's widow was all the
fortune he had left them. But nature had bestowed riches of a more
valuable kind than those which fortune had denied. I wish I could
describe Emily Sommers; but I shall not attempt it. She was one of those
whose virtues are hid from the blaze of the world, only to be the more
appreciated by those who can understand them.

It was to Emily Sommers that the stranger first spoke. He walked right
across the room and asked her to dance with him. Emily had never seen
him before; but concluding that he had come there with some of her
friends, and little acquainted with the rules of etiquette, she
immediately, with a frank artlessness, smiled an acceptance of his
request.

It was the custom in Hodnet for the gentlemen to employ the morning of
the succeeding day in paying their respects to the ladies with whom they
had danced on the previous evening. Requesting permission to wait upon
his partner and her mother next day, it was without much difficulty
obtained. This was surely very imprudent in Mrs. Sommers, and everybody
said it was very imprudent. "What! admit as a visitor in her family a
person whom she had never seen in her life before, and who, for anything
she knew, might be a swindler or a Jew! There was never anything so
preposterous--a woman, too, of Mrs. Sommers's judgment and propriety! It
was very--very strange." But whether it was very strange or not, the
fact is that the stranger soon spent most of his time at Violet Cottage;
and what is perhaps no less wonderful, notwithstanding his apparent
intimacy, he remained nearly as much a stranger to its inmates as ever.
His name, they had ascertained, was Burleigh--Frederick Burleigh; that
he was probably upwards of eight-and-twenty, and that, if he had ever
belonged to any profession, it must have been that of arms. But farther
they knew not. Mrs. Sommers, however, who to a well-cultivated mind
added a considerable experience of the world, did not take long to
discover that their new friend was, in every sense of the word, a man
whose habits and manners entitled him to the name and rank of a
gentleman; and she thought, too, that she saw in him, after a short
intercourse, many of those nobler qualities which raise the individual
to a high and well-merited rank among his species. As for Emily, she
loved his society she scarcely knew why; yet, when she endeavoured to
discover the cause, she found it no difficult matter to convince herself
that there was something about him so infinitely superior to all the men
she had ever seen that she was only obeying the dictates of reason in
admiring and esteeming him.

Her admiration and esteem continued to increase in proportion as she
became better acquainted with him, and the sentiments seemed to be
mutual. He now spent his time almost continually in her society, and it
never hung heavy on their hands. The stranger was fond of music, and
Emily, besides being mistress of her instrument, possessed naturally a
fine voice. Neither did she sing and play unrewarded; Burleigh taught
her the most enchanting of all modern languages--the language of
Petrarch and Tasso; and being well versed in the use of the pencil,
showed her how to give to her landscapes a richer finish and a bolder
effect. Then they read together; and as they looked with a smile into
each other's countenances, the fascinating pages of fiction seemed to
acquire a tenfold interest. These were evenings of calm but deep
happiness--long, long to be remembered.

Spring flew rapidly on. March, with her winds and her clouds, passed
away; April, with her showers and her sunshine, lingered no longer; and
May came smiling up the blue sky, scattering her roses over the green
surface of creation. The stranger entered one evening, before sunset,
the little garden that surrounded Violet Cottage. Emily saw him from
the window and came out to meet him. She held in her hand an open
letter. "It is from my cousin Henry," said she. "His regiment has
returned from France, and he is to be with us to-morrow or next day. We
shall be so glad to see him! You have often heard us talk of Henry?--he
and I were playmates when we were children; and though it is a long time
since we parted, I am sure I should know him again among a hundred."
"Indeed!" said the stranger, almost starting; "you must have loved him
very much, and very constantly too." "Oh, yes! I loved him as a brother.
I am sure you will love him too," Emily added. "Everybody whom you love,
and who loves you, I also must love, Miss Sommers. But your cousin I
shall not at present see. I must leave Hodnet to-morrow." "To-morrow!
Leave Hodnet to-morrow!" Emily grew very pale, and leaned for support
upon a sun-dial, near which they were standing. "Can it be possible,
Miss Sommers--Emily--that it is for me you are thus grieved?" "It is so
sudden," said Emily, "so unexpected; are you never to return again--are
we never to see you more?" "Do you wish me to return, do you wish to see
me again, Emily?" he asked. "Oh! how can you ask it?" "Emily, I have
been known to you under a cloud of mystery, a solitary being, without a
friend or acquaintance in the world, an outcast apparently from
society--either sinned against or sinning--without fortune, without
pretensions; and with all these disadvantages to contend with, how can I
suppose that I am indebted to anything but your pity for the kindness
which you have shown to me?" "Pity! pity you! Oh, do not wrong yourself
thus. No! though you were a thousand times less worthy than I know you
are, I should not pity, I should----" She stopped confused, a deep blush
spread over her face, she burst into tears, and would have sunk to the
ground had not her lover caught her in his arms. "Think of me thus," he
whispered, "till we meet again, and we may both be happy." "Oh! I will
think of you thus for ever!" They had reached the door of the cottage.
"God bless you, Emily," said the stranger; "I dare not see Mrs.
Sommers; tell her of my departure, but tell her that ere autumn has
faded into winter I shall again be here. Farewell, dearest, farewell."
She felt upon her cheek a hot and hurried kiss; and when she ventured to
look round he was gone.

Henry arrived next day, but there was a gloom upon the spirits of both
mother and daughter, which it took some time to dispel. Mrs. Sommers
felt for Emily more than for herself. She now perceived that her child's
future happiness depended more upon the honour of the stranger than she
had hitherto been aware, and she trembled to think of the probability
that in the busy world he might soon forget the very existence of such a
place as Hodnet, or any of its inhabitants. Emily entertained better
hopes, but they were the result of the sanguine and unsuspicious
temperament of youth. Her cousin, meanwhile, exerted himself to the
utmost to render himself agreeable. He was a young, frank, handsome
soldier, who had leapt into the very middle of many a lady's heart--red
coat, sword, epaulette-belt, cocked hat, feathers, and all. But he was
not destined to leap into Emily's. She had enclosed it within too strong
a line of circumvallation. After a three months' siege, it was
impregnable. So Henry, who really loved his cousin, thinking it folly to
endanger his peace and waste his time any longer, called for his horse
one morning, shook Emily warmly by the hand, mounted, "and rode away."

Autumn came; the leaves grew red, brown, yellow, and purple; then
dropped from the high branches, and lay rustling in heaps upon the path
below. The last roses withered. The last lingering wain conveyed from
the fields their golden treasure. The days were bright, clear, calm, and
chill; the nights were full of stars and dew, and the dew, ere morning,
was changed into silver hoar-frost. The robin hopped across the garden
walks, and candles were set upon the table before the tea-urn. But the
stranger came not. Darker days and longer nights succeeded. Winter burst
upon the earth. But still the stranger came not. Then the lustre of
Emily's eye grew dim; but yet she smiled, and looked as if she would
have made herself believe that there was hope.

And so there was; for the mail once more stopped at the Blue Boar; a
gentleman wrapped in a travelling cloak once more came out of it; and
Mr. Gilbert Cherryripe once more poked the fire for him in his best
parlour. Burleigh had returned.

I shall not describe their meeting nor inquire whether Emily's eye was
long without its lustre. But there was still another trial to be made.
Would she marry him? "My family," said he, "is respectable, and as it is
not wealth we seek, I have an independence, at least equal, I should
hope, to our wishes; but anything else which you may think mysterious
about me I cannot unravel until you are indissolubly mine." It was a
point of no slight difficulty; Emily entrusted its decision entirely to
her mother. Her mother saw that the stranger was inflexible in his
purpose, and she saw also that her child's happiness was inextricably
linked with him. What could she do? It had been better perhaps they had
never known him; but knowing him, and thinking of him as they did, there
was but one alternative--the risk must be run.

It was run. They were married in Hodnet; and immediately after the
ceremony they stepped into a carriage and drove away, nobody knew
whither. It is enough for us to mention that towards twilight they came
in sight of a magnificent Gothic mansion, situated in the midst of
extensive and noble parks. Emily expressed her admiration of its
appearance; and her young husband, gazing on her with impassioned
delight, exclaimed, "Emily, it is yours! My mind was imbued with
erroneous impressions of women; I had been courted and deceived by them.
I believed that their affections were to be won only by flattering their
vanity or dazzling their ambition. I was resolved that unless I were
loved for myself I would never be loved at all. I travelled through the
country _incognito_; I came to Hodnet and saw you. I have tried you in
every way, and found you true. It was I, and not my fortune, that you
married; but both are yours. This is Burleigh House; your husband is
Frederick Augustus Burleigh, Earl of Exeter, and you, my Emily, are his
countess!"



LOVE WILL FIND A WAY.

_THE STORY OF WINNIFRED COUNTESS OF NITHSDALE._


Among the noblemen who, with many misgivings as to the wisdom of the
attempt, yet felt it their duty to take part in the rising on behalf of
the young Pretender, which took place in the year 1745, Lord Nithsdale
was unhappily numbered.

It is unnecessary to detail here the progress of this ill-advised
enterprise, which ended in general defeat and the capture of those
principally concerned. Lord Derwentwater, Lord Nithsdale, and other
noblemen, were immediately brought to trial, and condemned, without hope
of mercy, to suffer the death of traitors.

Lady Nithsdale, when the first terrible news of her husband's
apprehension reached her, was at Terreagles, their seat, near Traquhair
in Peebleshire, and hearing that he much desired the consolation of
seeing her, she resolved at once to set out for London. It was winter,
and at that period the roads during this season were often almost
impassable. She succeeded, however, through great difficulties, in
reaching Newcastle, and from thence went to York by the stage; but there
the increased severity of the weather and the depth of the snow would
not admit of the stage proceeding farther--even the mail could not be
forwarded. But Lady Nithsdale was on an errand from which no risks might
deter her. She therefore pursued her way, though the snow was generally
above the horse's girths, and, in the end, reached London in safety,
and, supported both in health and spirits by firm resolution, she
sustained no ill consequences from her perilous journey.

Arrived there, however, she learnt, to her dismay, that she was not to
be allowed to see her husband, unless she would consent to be imprisoned
with him in the Tower--a plan she could not consent to, as it would
prevent her acting on his behalf by soliciting the assistance and
intercession of friends, and, above all, incapacitate her from carrying
out the plan of escape she had already formed, should the worst she
apprehended come true. In spite of the refusal of the Government,
however, by bribing the guard she obtained frequent interviews with her
husband up to the day on which the prisoners were condemned; after
which, for the last week, their families were allowed free admittance to
take a last leave of them.

From the first moment of her arrival in London she laboured in her
husband's cause, making application to all persons in authority,
wherever there was the most distant chance of assistance; but from those
in power she only received assurances that her cause was hopeless, and
that for certain reasons her husband was especially reserved for
vengeance.

Lord Nithsdale, for her sake more than his own, was anxious that a
petition should be presented to the king in his behalf; trusting, by
this means, to excite for her his sympathy and indulgence. It was well
known that the king was especially incensed against Lord Nithsdale, so
that he is said to have forbidden that any petition should be presented
for him, or personal address made to him; but the countess, in obedience
to her lord's wish, resolved to make the attempt, and accordingly
repaired to court. In the narrative she wrote to her sister of her
husband's escape, she has given the following account of the
interview--very little creditable to the feelings of George I., either
as a king or a gentleman:--

"So the first day that I heard the king was to go to the drawing-room, I
dressed myself in black, as if I had been in mourning, and sent for Mrs.
Morgan (the same who accompanied me to the Tower); because, as I did
not know his Majesty personally, I might have mistaken some other person
for him. She stayed by me, and told me when he was coming. I had another
lady with me (Lady Nairn), and we remained in a room between the king's
apartments and the drawing-room, so that he was obliged to go through
it; and as there were three windows in it, we sat in the middle one,
that I might have time enough to meet him before he could pass. I threw
myself at his feet, and told him, in French, that I was the unfortunate
Countess of Nithsdale, that he might not pretend to be ignorant of my
person. But, perceiving that he wanted to go off without receiving my
petition, I caught hold of the skirt of his coat, that he might stop and
hear me. He endeavoured to escape out of my hands; but I kept such
strong hold, that he dragged me on my knees from the middle of the room
to the very door of the drawing-room. At last one of the blue ribbons
who attended his Majesty took me round the waist, while another wrested
the coat out of my hands. The petition, which I had endeavoured to
thrust into his pocket, fell down in the scuffle, and I almost fainted
away through grief and disappointment. One of the gentlemen in waiting
picked up the petition; and as I knew that it ought to have been given
to the lord of the bedchamber, who was then in waiting, I wrote to him,
and entreated him to do me the favour to read the petition which I had
had the honour to present to his Majesty. Fortunately for me it happened
to be my Lord Dorset, with whom Mrs. Morgan was very intimate.
Accordingly she went into the drawing-room and delivered him the letter,
which he received very graciously. He could not read it then, as he was
at cards with the Prince; but as soon as ever the game was over he read
it, and behaved (as I afterwards learned) with the warmest zeal for my
interest, and was seconded by the Duke of Montrose, who had seen me in
the ante-chamber and wanted to speak to me. But I made him a sign not to
come near me, lest his acquaintance might thwart my designs. They read
over the petition several times, but without any success; but it became
the topic of their conversation the rest of the evening, and the
harshness with which I had been treated soon spread abroad--not much to
the honour of the king."

This painful scene happened on Monday, February 13th, and seems to have
produced no result, unless it may be supposed to have hastened the fate
of the prisoners; for, on the following Friday, it was decided in
council that the sentence against them should be carried into effect.

In the meanwhile Lady Derwentwater and other ladies of high rank were
strenuous in their efforts to avert the execution of the sentence. They
succeeded in obtaining an interview with the king, though without any
favourable issue. They also attended at both Houses of Parliament to
present petitions to the members as they went in. These exertions had a
decided influence on the feelings of both Houses. In the Commons a
motion to petition the king in favour of the delinquents was lost by
only seven votes, and among the Lords a still stronger personal feeling
and interest was excited; but all proved unavailing, and Lady Nithsdale,
after joining with the other ladies in this ineffectual attendance, at
length found that all her hope and dependence must rest on her
long-formed scheme of bringing about her husband's escape. She had less
than twenty-four hours for arranging it in all its details, and for
persuading the accomplices who would be necessary to her to enter into
so hazardous a project. In these she seems to have been peculiarly
fortunate; but the history of this remarkable escape can only be given
in her own words, taken from the interesting and spirited narrative she
wrote of it:--

"As the motion had passed generally (that the petitions should be read
in the Lords, which had only been carried after a warm debate) I thought
I would draw some advantage in favour of my design. Accordingly I
immediately left the House of Lords and hastened to the Tower; where,
affecting an air of joy and satisfaction, I told all the guards I passed
that I came to bring joyful tidings to the prisoner. I desired them to
lay aside their fears, for the petition had passed the House in their
favour. I then gave them some money to drink to the lords and his
Majesty, though it was but trifling; for I thought that if I were too
liberal on the occasion they might suspect my designs, and that giving
them something would gain their good humour and services for the next
day, which was the eve of the execution. The next morning I could not go
to the Tower, having so many things on my hands to put in readiness; but
in the evening, when all was ready, I sent for Mrs. Mills, with whom I
lodged, and acquainted her with my design of attempting my lord's
escape, as there was no prospect of his being pardoned, and this was the
last night before the execution. I told her that I had everything in
readiness, and that I trusted she would not refuse to accompany me, that
my lord might pass for her. I pressed her to come immediately, as we had
no time to lose. At the same time I sent for Mrs. Morgan, then usually
known by the name of Hilton, to whose acquaintance my dear Evans (her
maid) had introduced me--which I looked upon as a very singular
happiness. I immediately communicated my resolution to her. She was of a
very tall and slender make; so I begged her to put under her own
riding-hood one that I had prepared for Mrs. Mills, as she was to lend
hers to my lord, that in coming out he might be taken for her. Mrs.
Mills was not only of the same height, but nearly the same size as my
lord. When we were in the coach I never ceased talking, that they might
have no leisure to reflect. Their surprise and astonishment when I first
opened my design to them had made them consent, without ever thinking of
the consequences.

"On our arrival at the Tower, the first I introduced was Mrs. Morgan;
for I was only allowed to take in one at a time. She brought in the
clothes that were to serve Mrs. Mills when she left her own behind her.
When Mrs. Morgan had taken off what she had brought for my purpose, I
conducted her back to the staircase; and, in going, I begged her to send
me in my maid to dress me; that I was afraid of being too late to
present my last petition that night if she did not come immediately. I
despatched her safe, and went partly downstairs to meet Mrs. Mills, who
had the precaution to hold her handkerchief to her face--as was very
natural for a woman to do when she was going to bid her last farewell to
a friend on the eve of his execution. I had, indeed, desired her to do
it, that my lord might go out in the same manner. Her eyebrows were
rather inclined to be sandy, and my lord's were dark and very thick;
however, I had prepared some paint of the colour of hers to disguise his
with. I also bought an artificial head-dress of the same coloured hair
as hers; and I painted his face with white and his cheeks with rouge, to
hide his long beard, which he had not had time to shave. All this
provision I had before left in the Tower.

"The poor guards, whom my liberality the day before had endeared me to,
let me go quietly with my company, and were not so strictly on the watch
as they usually had been; and the more so as they were persuaded from
what I had told them the day before that the prisoners would obtain
their pardon. I made Mrs. Mills take off her own hood and put on that
which I had brought her. I then took her by the hand and led her out of
my lord's chamber; and in passing through the next room, in which there
were several people, with all the concern imaginable I said, 'My dear
Mrs. Catherine, go in all haste and send me my waiting-maid; she
certainly cannot reflect how late it is; she forgets that I am to
present a petition to-night, and if I let slip this opportunity I am
undone; for to-morrow will be too late. Hasten her as much as possible;
for I shall be on thorns till she comes.' Everybody in the room, who
were chiefly the guards' wives and daughters, seemed to compassionate me
exceedingly; and the sentinel officiously opened the door.

"When I had seen her out I returned back to my lord and finished
dressing him. I had taken care that Mrs. Mills did not go out crying, as
she came in, that my lord might the better pass for the lady who came in
crying and afflicted; and the more so because he had the same dress she
wore. When I had almost finished dressing my lord in all my petticoats
excepting one, I perceived that it was growing dark, and was afraid that
the light of the candles might betray us, so I resolved to set off. I
went out, leading him by the hand; and he held his handkerchief to his
eyes. I spoke to him in the most piteous and afflicted tone of voice,
bewailing bitterly the negligence of Evans, who had ruined me by her
delay. Then said I, 'My dear Mrs. Betty, for the love of God run quickly
and bring her with you. You know my lodging, and, if ever you made
despatch in your life, do it at present. I am distracted with this
disappointment.' The guards opened the doors, and I went downstairs with
him, still conjuring to make all possible despatch. As soon as he had
cleared the door, I made him walk before me, for fear the sentinel
should take notice of his walk; but I still continued to press him to
make all the despatch he possibly could. At the bottom of the stairs I
met my dear Evans, into whose hands I confided him.[3]

[Footnote 3: Thus one more person left Lord Nithsdale's prison
than had entered it. Three had gone in, and four came out. But
so long as women only passed, and these two at a time, the
guards probably were not particularly watchful. This inevitable
difficulty in the plan of the escape makes Lady Nithsdale's
admirable self-possession of manner in conducting it the more
conspicuous. Any failure on her part would have awakened the
suspicions of the bystanders.]

"I had before engaged Mr. Mills to be in readiness before the Tower to
conduct him to some place of safety, in case he succeeded. He looked
upon the affair as so very improbable to succeed, that his astonishment,
when he saw us, threw him into such consternation that he was almost out
of himself; which Evans perceiving, with the greatest presence of mind,
without telling him (Lord Nithsdale) anything, lest he should mistrust
them, conducted him to some of her own friends on whom she could rely,
and so secured him; without which we should have been undone. When she
had conducted him, and left him with them, she returned to find Mr.
Mills, who by this time had recovered himself from his astonishment.
They went home together, and having found a place of security, they
conducted him to it.

"In the meanwhile, as I had pretended to have sent the young lady on a
message, I was obliged to return upstairs and go back to my lord's room
in the same feigned anxiety of being too late; so that everybody seemed
sincerely to sympathise with my distress. When I was in the room, I
talked to him as if he had been really present; and answered my own
questions in my lord's voice as nearly as I could imitate it. I walked
up and down as if we were conversing together, till I thought they had
time enough thoroughly to clear themselves of the guards. I then thought
proper to make off also. I opened the door, and stood half in it, that
those in the outward chamber might hear what I said; but held it so
close that they could not look in. I bid my lord a formal farewell for
that night; and added, that something more than usual must have happened
to make Evans negligent on this important occasion, who had always been
so punctual in the smallest trifle; that I saw no other remedy than to
go in person; that if the Tower were still open when I finished my
business I would return that night; but that he might be assured that I
would be with him as early in the morning as I could gain admittance to
the Tower; and I flattered myself I should bring favourable news. Then,
before I shut the door, I pulled the string through the latch, so that
it could only be opened on the inside. I then shut it with some degree
of force, that I might be sure of its being well shut. I said to the
servant as I passed by, who was ignorant of the whole transaction, that
he need not carry candles in to his master till my lord sent for him, as
he desired to finish some prayers first. I went downstairs and called a
coach, as there were several on the stand. I drove home to my lodgings,
where poor Mr. Mackenzie had been waiting to carry the petition, in case
my attempt failed. I told him there was no need of any petition, as my
lord was safe out of the Tower and out of the hands of his enemies, but
that I did not know where he was.

"I then desired one of the servants to call a chair, and I went to the
Duchess of Montrose, who had always borne a part in my distresses. She
came to me; and as my heart was in an ecstasy of joy, I expressed it in
my countenance as she entered the room. I ran up to her in the transport
of my joy. She appeared to be exceedingly shocked and frighted, and has
since confessed to me that she apprehended my trouble had thrown me out
of myself till I communicated my happiness to her. She then advised me
to retire to some place of security, for that the king was highly
displeased, and even enraged, at the petition I had presented to him,
and had complained of it severely, and then said she would go to court
and see how the news of my lord's escape was received. When the news was
brought to the king, he flew into an excess of passion, and said he was
betrayed; for it could not have been done without some confederacy. He
instantly despatched two persons to the Tower to see that the other
prisoners were secure, lest they should follow the example. Some threw
the blame upon one, some upon another. The duchess was the only one at
court who knew it.

"When I left the duchess, I went to a house which Evans had found out
for me, and where she promised to acquaint me where my lord was. She got
thither some few minutes after me, and took me to the house of a poor
woman, directly opposite to the guard-house, where my lord was. She had
but one small room, up one pair of stairs, and a very small bed in it.
We threw ourselves upon the bed, that we might not be heard walking up
and down. She left us a bottle of wine and some bread, and Mrs. Mills
brought us some more in her pocket next day. We subsisted on this
provision from Thursday till Saturday night, when Mrs. Mills came and
conducted my lord to the Venetian ambassador's. We did not communicate
the affair to his excellency; but one of his servants concealed him in
his own room till Wednesday, on which day the ambassador's coach-and-six
was to go down to Dover to meet his brother. My lord put on a livery,
and went down in the retinue, without the least suspicion, to Dover,
where M. Michel (the ambassador's servant) hired a small vessel and
immediately set sail for Calais. The passage was so remarkably short
that the captain threw out this reflection, that the wind could not
have served better if his passengers had been flying for their lives,
little thinking it to be really the case.

"For my part," continues Lady Nithsdale, "I absconded to the house of a
very honest man in Drury Lane, where I remained till I was assured of my
lord's safe arrival on the Continent. I then wrote to the Duchess of
Buccleugh and entreated her to procure leave for me to go with safety
about my business. So far from granting my request, they were resolved
to secure me, if possible. After several debates it was decided that if
I remained concealed no further search should be made, but that if I
appeared either in England or Scotland I should be secured."

On first hearing of her husband's apprehension, she had thought it
prudent to conceal many important family papers and other valuables, and
having no person at hand with whom they could be safely entrusted, had
hid them underground, in a place known only to the gardener, in whom she
could entirely confide. This had proved a happy precaution, for, after
her departure, the house had been searched, and, as she expressed it,
"God only knows what might have transpired from those papers." In
addition to the danger of their being discovered, there was the imminent
risk of their being destroyed by damp, so that no time must be lost in
regaining them before too late. She therefore determined on another
journey to the north, and, for greater secrecy, on horseback, though
this mode of travelling, which was new to her, was extremely fatiguing.
She, however, with her maid, Mrs. Evans, and a servant that could be
depended on, set out from London, and reached Traquhair in safety and
without any one being aware of her intentions. Here she ventured to rest
two days, in the society of her sister-in-law and Lord Traquhair,
feeling security in the conviction that, as the lord-lieutenant of the
county was an old friend of her husband's, he would not allow any search
to be made after her without first giving her warning to abscond. From
thence she proceeded to Terreagles, whither it was supposed she came
with the permission of Government; and to keep up that opinion, she
invited her neighbours to visit her. That same night she dug up the
papers from their hiding-place, where happily they had sustained no
injury, and sent them at once, by safe hands, to Traquhair. This was
accomplished just in time, for the magistrates of Dumfries began to
entertain suspicions of her right to be there, and desired to see her
leave from Government. On hearing this, "I expressed," she says, "my
surprise that they had been so backward in paying their respects; 'but,'
said I, 'better late than never: be sure to tell them that they shall be
welcome whenever they choose to come.' This was after dinner; but I lost
no time to put everything in readiness, but with all possible secrecy;
and the next morning, before daybreak, I set off again for London, with
the same attendants, and, as before, I put up at the smallest inns, and
arrived safe once more."

George I. could not forgive Lady Nithsdale for the heroic part she had
acted: he refused, in her case, the allowance or dower which was granted
to the wives of the other lords. "A lady informed me," she says, "that
the king was extremely incensed at the news; that he had issued orders
to have me arrested, adding that I did whatever I pleased, despite of
all his designs, and that I had given him more trouble than any woman in
all Europe. For which reason I kept myself as closely concealed as
possible, till the heat of these rumours had abated. In the meanwhile, I
took the opinion of a very famous lawyer, who was a man of the strictest
probity: he advised me to go off as soon as they had ceased searching
for me. I followed his advice, and, in about a fortnight after, I
escaped without any accident whatever."

She met her husband and children at Paris, whither they had come from
Bruges to meet her. They soon afterwards joined the Pretender's court at
Avignon; but, finding the mode of life there little to their taste,
shortly after returned to Italy, where they lived in great privacy.

Lord Nithsdale lived, after his escape, nearly thirty years, and died at
Rome in 1744. His wife survived him five years: she had the comfort of
having provided a competency for her son by her hazardous journey to
Terreagles, though his title and principal estates had been confiscated
by his father's attainder. He married Lady Catherine Stewart, daughter
of the Earl and Countess of Traquhair. Her daughter, the Lady Anne
Maxwell, became the wife of Lord Bellew.



[Transcriber's Note: The following typographical errors present in the
original print edition have been corrected. No other alterations have
been made to the original text.

In "Margot: The Martyr", "the burning larva" has been changed to "the
burning lava".

In "Nadine: The Princess", a colon was added following "The silence was
broken by Maura, saying"; a quotation mark was added following "the
subject is never mentioned to her"; and a quotation mark has been
deleted preceding "O---- was a fearful place".

In "My Year at School", a quotation mark was added before "The history
prize has been awarded".

In "The Silver Star", "her exhibiton work" has been changed to "her
exhibition work".

In "Uncle Tone", a comma has been added after "he shut himself off from
all society"; and "discourtsey" has been changed to "discourtesy".

In "The Missing Letter", a quotation mark was added after "he shall have
it now."

In "The Magic Carpet", a quotation mark has been added before "The
book?" and before "The Magic Cabinet!"; and "half-cirle" has been
changed to "half-circle".

In "Only Tim", "A little latter" has been changed to "A little later";
and "pepples" has been changed to "pebbles".

In "The Colonel's Boy", "mischevously" has been changed to
"mischievously".

In "The Trevern Treasure", "no opportunity for Sybil Trevern ro return"
has been changed to "no opportunity for Sybil Trevern to return";
"frequently rasults in misadventure" has been changed to "frequently
results in misadventure"; and "the disaster of Sherifmuir" has been
changed to "the disaster of Sherrifmuir".

In "Dora", "Miss Dora "ll be marryin'" has been changed to "Miss Dora
'll be marryin'"; and "'e ses. solemn" has been changed to "'e ses
solemn".

In "Little Peace", "Beneath this ortrait" has been changed to "Beneath
this portrait"; "Blessed are the pacemakers" has been changed to
"Blessed are the peacemakers"; and a quotation mark has been added
before "Because old Gaffer Cressidge".

In "The Story of Wassili and Daria", "dressed in their most brillant
manner" has been changed to "dressed in their most brilliant manner".

In "The Pedlar's Pack", a quotation mark has been removed in front of
"If I didn't think".

In "The Unbidden Guest", quotation marks have been added in front of
"Dad believes what he's agoing to tell you" and in front of "I was
a-looking at mother"; "'Nothin', says I" has been changed to "'Nothin','
says I"; and "'Nothin,' says she" has been changed to "'Nothin',' says
she".

In "A Strange Visitor", a quotation mark has been added in front of "I
must apologise for intruding upon you".

In "Billjim", "as similiar as possible" has been changed to "as similar
as possible"; and "See bathed his temples" has been changed to "She
bathed his temples".

In "The Tiny Folk of Langaffer", a quotation mark has been added in
front of "'Silver sword of Ravenspur.' That means something."

In "The Kingfisher", "their voices lease my ears" has been changed to
"their voices please my ears".

In "Caspar the Cobbler", "masonary and stone-carving" has been changed
to "masonry and stone-carving"; "his workship in the old garret" has
been changed to "his workshop in the old garret"; and a quotation mark
has been added after "exhibits his good breeding."

In "The Story of Grizel Cochrane", "In futherance of this plan" has been
changed to "In furtherance of this plan".

In "The Stranger", a quotation mark has been added before "Can it be
possible".]





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